The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has launched their active tick surveillance program.

It involves the identification and testing of ticks that are collected by public health staff.

The field surveillance is conducted at public parks and trails that are frequently used by community members to retrieve local data of tick populations.

It took staff about 30 minutes to find a tick at Ojibway Park on Tuesday.

Lyme disease is a serious disease that is spread by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. These tiny little creatures can be found in wooded areas such as campgrounds, parks, trails and your backyard.

According to the health unit, more than 350 ticks have been collected in each of the past two years in Windsor-Essex. About 30 of them were blacklegged ticks.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed Medical Officer of Health for the Windsor and Essex County region, is reminding area residents to protect themselves and their family against ticks when going outdoors.

To reduce your risks of being bitten by a tick, follow these tips:

-Avoid walking in tall grass and stay on the centre of paths.

-Cover up. Wear long- sleeved shirts and pants.

-Wear light coloured clothing to spot ticks easily.

-Tuck your pants into your socks and wear closed toed shoes.

-Do a full body check on yourself, children and pets after being outdoors.

-Shower within 2 hours of being outdoors.

-Put your clothes into a dryer on high heat (at least 60 minutes) to kill any possible ticks

-Put a tick collar on your pets.

-Keep grass in your yard short.

If you find a tick on your body, quickly remove the tick with a tick key or a pair of tweezers. Gently wash the bite and surrounding area with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. You can bring the tick in a closed sealed container or a small plastic bag into the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit for identification and testing.

The Health Unit accepts ticks that are found on humans (they do not accept ticks found on animals) Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm at all three health unit locations.

Ticks identification and testing is part of the WECHU’s passive tick surveillance program and you should speak to your physician to determine if treatment is required.