WINDSOR, ONT. -- Outdoor enthusiasts are being reminded to keep an eye out for ticks this spring now that most amenities are closed.

Tick dragging in Windsor-Essex will resume in May, after the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) took a one-year hiatus thanks to COVID-19.

“As soon as I saw it, I was freaked out and terrified.”

Chantelle Roy of Chatham, Ont., discovered a blacklegged tick on her son's head this past Sunday.

“He came into the kitchen and said ‘Mom, when I touch back here, I feel something.'”

Roy tells CTV News they were able to have it removed with tweezers, but are still waiting to learn if it carried any disease. “When I talked to the health unit they said unfortunately to see if that specific tick had Lyme, it can take quite a long time -- like months.”

According to the WECHU, blacklegged ticks are spreading to new areas of the province because of climate change.

According to its website, factors like increasing temperatures, rainfall and humidity can lead to an increase in tick populations. It adds blacklegged ticks (formerly called deer ticks) spread the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, which is most likely to be transmitted after the tick has been attached to you for 24 hours or more.

“Kind of scary that a little bug can do that to you,” Roy says.

WECHU officials tell CTV News that four human cases of Lyme disease were discovered in 2019 and that the same number was recorded in 2020.

“The ticks are out in full force now!”

WECHU Environmental Health Manager Phil Wong says he too discovered a tick in his backyard while gardening recently, and warns people to be careful as they enjoy the outdoors.

“Obviously Lyme disease is what we’re worried about.”

Wong adds officials in Windsor-Essex are predominately concerned about blacklegged ticks and will continue to monitor for hot spots in public parks and trails.

“Anything that we find, we’ll identify to see if it's the deer or blacklegged tick. From there we’ll get them tested for Lyme disease.”

Lyme disease can cause fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, fatigue and a skin rash. It is treatable, but it can cause heart and nervous system symptoms if not treated in the early stages.

Similar to 2020, the WECHU will not accept tick submissions in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents are instead encouraged to visit to learn more.

Wong adds, “Anyone with a smartphone can take a photo, submit it and they’ll send the info back to you. I believe the turnaround is just a few days.”

A tick can be removed carefully with tweezers by pulling it straight out, gently but firmly. Avoid squeezing it or using your fingers. Clean the area with soap and water and rubbing alcohol.

When heading outside, the WECHU recommends wearing light-coloured long-sleeved shirts and pants tucked into socks. The light-coloured clothing makes spotting a tick easier. Stay on marked trails and use DEET or icaridin bug spray and brush off clothing before going into a vehicle or house.

After returning home, experts advise doing a thorough tick check by running your hands over your skin for anything that may be embedded or itchy. Also, remember to check your pets for ticks and shower within two hours of being outdoors.