Toronto Public Health says ticks found in various parts of the city, including Toronto Island, are being tested for Lyme disease.

The recent discovery of black-legged ticks in Toronto suggests that the parasites are becoming more established in the area, public health officials say. In addition to Algonquin Island, a residential part of Toronto Island, blacklegged ticks have been found in Morningside Park and Rouge Valley. Some ticks found in Rouge Valley last November tested positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

Over the past five years, an average of about 20 people per year reported being infected with Lyme disease.

A person contracts Lyme disease after being bitten by a black-legged tick that is infected with the B. burgdorferi bacteria.

The disease can only be transmitted after a tick has been attached to a person or animal for at least 24 hours.

Symptoms of Lyme disease, which can be treated with antibiotics, include fever and chills, headache, muscle and joint pains, fatigue, stiff neck, and a circular rash, also known as a bull’s eye rash. Symptoms can begin as early as three days after a bite but may not show up for as long as four weeks.

To prevent being bitten by a tick in tick-infested areas, public health officials say you should wear light-coloured clothing, wear long sleeves and long pants, avoid shrubs and grassy areas, use bug repellant that contains DEET and inspect daily for ticks.