Posts tagged Kendra Fleming
[Media Release] Time to Fight Lyme

Submitted by Kendra Fleming

(CITY OF KAWARTHA LAKES) – The return of nicer weather means it’s also time for a ‘tick talk’ – a reminder to be on the lookout for blacklegged ticks that may spread Lyme disease.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit encourages local residents to avoid blacklegged (or deer) ticks. This type of tick may carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, an illness that can lead to recurring arthritis, neurological problems, numbness or paralysis if left untreated. With blacklegged ticks known to be present in many parts of Ontario, it’s important to take precautions.

“Blacklegged ticks settle on tall grasses and bushes, and then attach themselves to a passing person or animal,” says Dharminder Kaler, a Public Health Inspector with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Once attached, a tick will feed on the host’s blood. The longer a blacklegged tick feeds, the more it becomes engorged and the greater the risk it can spread Lyme disease to a person.”

To avoid blacklegged ticks, the Health Unit suggests you: apply bug spray containing DEET on your skin and clothing; wear closed-toe shoes, long-sleeved shirts and pants; pull socks over your pant legs if possible; and stay on marked trails when walking in a nature area. To keep ticks away from your property, cut grass short and trim bushes and branches to let in sunlight. More tick prevention tips and additional Lyme resources are available on the Health Unit website (

After being outside, Kaler also suggests checking your entire body for ticks. It’s a good idea to have a shower as soon as you can to wash off any ticks. Put your clothes in a dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes to kill any ticks that may be attached.

If you notice a tick on your body, remove it as soon as possible. There are many tick removal products available, so be sure to follow manufacturer’s directions. If using finely-tipped tweezers, grasp the head of the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull it slowly, straight out. Immediately after, wash the bite area with soap and water, or alcohol-based sanitizer.

People should see a health care provider right away if a blacklegged tick has been attached for more than 24 hours or is engorged (meaning it’s been feeding for some time). You should also seek medical attention if you experience symptoms of Lyme disease, such as skin rash, fever, headache and muscle/joint pain. If detected early, Lyme can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

If you have been bitten by a blacklegged tick, you can submit it for testing to the Health Unit. Ticks are tested for surveillance purposes only to see if they are the type that can transmit Lyme disease.

People can also identify ticks online through the eTick website ( Using the online portal, submit a photo of the tick you have encountered. Within 48 hours, you will be notified if it is a blacklegged tick which is the type that may spread Lyme disease. The result is not meant to provide medical advice, but can help people determine if they wish to see a health care provider.

For media inquiries, contact:

Dharminder Kaler, Public Health Inspector, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2209.

Family Literacy Day

Media Release Submitted by Kendra Fleming

While Family Literacy Day is officially being marked this Sunday (January 27), local families are being encouraged to make literacy part of their regular routine every day of the year.

Family Literacy Day will mark its 20th year in 2019. As befits this milestone anniversary, the theme of this year’s Family Literacy Day is ‘Take 20’ – which encourages parents and caregivers to take 20 minutes daily to read, sing, listen or play with children to help them develop strong literacy skills for life.

“Practising literacy together every day has tremendous benefits for both children and parents,” says Shelley Shaughnessy, a Public Health Nurse with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “When you ‘take 20,’ not only do you get to spend quality time together as a family, but you also help children develop strong literacy skills that are essential for them to reach their full potential in a changing and dynamic world.”

There are many fun ways that families can encourage literacy skills, without children even realizing they are learning. Reading a book at bedtime, visiting the library, playing a board game together, or telling knock-knock jokes while doing the dishes can all be options, Shaughnessy notes. Other activities to do together as a family include:

Organizing a ‘grocery hunt’ in which children search the store for all food items on the family grocery list.

Playing ‘home restaurant’ by getting children to create a menu for a meal by drawing food items or using grocery store flyers. To spice up mealtime, children can even take food orders too.

Taking part in an ‘animal dance’ by having family members stand in a circle and have each take a turn moving like an animal and say what they’re doing (e.g. ‘I hop like a bunny,’ ‘I stomp like a dinosaur’).

Local families can also check with their local library or EarlyON Child and Family Centre to see if there are special events planned in their community as part of Family Literacy Day.

Two organizations that can offer additional ideas and information for families are:

ABC Life Literacy Canada ( offers family literacy tips, activities and resources.

KidTalk ( is part of the Preschool Speech and Language Services program that covers Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. The KidTalk website offers resources to promote speech skills, as well as information on speech and language milestones.


Media release submitted by Kendra Fleming

If your New Year’s Resolution to quit or cut back on cigarettes has already gone up in smoke, this contest can give you a cash incentive to get back on track.

 The Wouldurather contest ( is open to young people in Ontario between the ages of 18 to 29 years who regularly smoke, only smoke socially, have stopped smoking, or never smoked in their lives. As the contest name implies, participants are asked if they would rather reduce smoking or win cash prizes.

 “If you’re are looking for a reason to give up or reduce tobacco use, the Wouldurather contest is a great way to motivate yourself,” says Jennifer Robertson, a Public Health Nurse with the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. “Wouldurather offers you a chance to win cash for quitting, but also provides plenty of support to help you along the way.”

 People only have until January 27, to register for the Wouldurather contest, which runs over six weeks (January 28 to March 10). There are four categories to enter:

  • Quit For Good: Quit smoking completely and have a chance to win $2,500.

  • Keep The Count: Cut smoking by half to be eligible to win $1,000.

  • Party Without The Smoke: Cut out smoking while drinking or partying for a chance to win $500.

  • Don't Start and Win: Stay smoke-free for an opportunity to win $250.

 People can register with a ‘buddy’ who can support them during the contest. Additional quit-smoking resources are also available for participants in the Wouldurather contest, including access to no-cost nicotine replacement therapy (patch, gum).

 Robertson says January is a perfect time to quit smoking, since National Non-Smoking Week(January 20-26) and Weedless Wednesday (January 23) both occur this month. Woulduather is organized by Leave the Pack Behind, a program funded by the Ontario government that helps young people become tobacco-free.

 For media inquiries, contact:

Jennifer Robertson, Public Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, 1-866-888-4577, ext. 2302.

Let's Fight Flu

Press Release Submitted by Kendra Fleming

Health Unit Confirms First Local Influenza Case; Residents Urged to Take Precautions, Including Getting Flu Shot

Flu season is officially here, with the first lab-confirmed case of influenza showing up in this region.

According to the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, the first locally-acquired influenza case of the 2018/19 flu season has been confirmed in a person living in the Health Unit region (the City of Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland County and Haliburton County). The local finding is no surprise, say local health officials, given that influenza activity is increasing in many parts of Canada.

“Typically, we see flu activity start to ramp up in mid- to late-November, and that is what we are again experiencing this year,” says Marianne Rock, Manager, Health Protection Division, with the HKPR District Health Unit.“Now that we know flu is circulating in our area, we encourage local residents to take precautions and protect themselves and their loved ones from becoming sick.”

Getting the flu vaccine is highly recommended for anyone six months of age and older since it is one of the best ways to fight influenza, Rock adds. Locally, people can get flu vaccine from their health care providers or pharmacy. A full list of pharmacies offering flu shots in the area is available on the Health Unit’s website (

“Getting the flu vaccine early enough is important, as it can take a week or two for the antibodies to develop in the body to offer full protection against influenza,” Rock says. “With the holiday season on the horizon, getting the flu vaccine is also advised to stay healthy and reduce the spread of illness when getting together with family or friends.”

To further stop the spread of flu, the Health Unit also recommends people:

  • Wash their hands thoroughly and often.

  • Sneeze and cough into their sleeves

  • Stay home from work and school if they are sick.

  • Keep their body’s immune system strong by eating well, getting sufficient sleep and being physically active on a regular basis.

Influenza virus spreads mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. People can become infected by touching objects or surfaces with flu viruses on them and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose. Flu symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, headache, muscle aches and extreme weakness and fatigue. Individuals who are most vulnerable to flu include older adults, very young children and people with compromised immune systems.

Avoid Hitchhikers - Risk of Lyme Disease Still Persists in Fall

Press Release Submitted by Kendra Fleming

If you’re starting to put stuff away for the winter, keep the bug spray handy – at least for a few more weeks – and be extra watchful for unwanted hitchhikers.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit warns the risk of Lyme disease is still present until near-freezing conditions set into the area. That’s because blacklegged (or deer) ticks that can carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease remain active until temperatures drop and remain near the freezing mark.

“Blacklegged ticks are still very active in fall and in need of a ‘blood meal’ to get them through the next part of their lifecycle,” says Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of Environmental Health, with the HKPR District Health Unit. “With more people hiking trails, getting out to enjoy the fall colours, or readying for hunting season, the risk of encountering blacklegged ticks is increased too.”

Blacklegged ticks will settle on tall grasses and bushes, acting like hitchhikers until they can attach to a passing person or animal. Once attached, ticks will feed on the host’s blood. If the blacklegged tick is infected with the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that causes Lyme disease, it can pass the disease onto a person – especially if it has fed for more than 24 hours.

Lyme disease is a serious illness that includes symptoms like: skin rash, fever, headache and muscle/joint pain. In more serious cases, Lyme disease can lead to recurring arthritis, neurological problems, numbness or paralysis – especially if left untreated. If detected early, Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics.

“Blacklegged ticks are one hitchhiker you want to avoid,” Ovcharovich notes. “To reduce your risk, stay on trails if walking in the woods, wear closed footwear and socks, put on long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, use insect repellent with DEET, and thoroughly check yourself and family members for ticks each time you have been outside.”

When checking for ticks, pay close attention to the groin area, scalp, ankles, armpits, naval and behind ears/knees. Consider taking a shower as soon as you can to wash off any ticks. According to Ovcharovich, checking for ticks should also extend to pets. “Dogs, cats and other pets can carry ticks that spread Lyme disease,” he says. “While you cannot be infected directly by a dog or cat, pets can carry ticks into your home or yard putting you at risk. It’s best to put tick and flea collars on pets and, from time-to-time, check dogs and cats for the presence of ticks. Speak to your veterinarian if you have any concerns.”

What should people do if they find a tick on them? The Health Unit recommends the following:

  • Promptly and properly remove a tick from your body to prevent infection. Using finely-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. Pull it straight out, gently but firmly being able to remove the entire tick (head and all). Thoroughly clean the bite site with rubbing alcohol and/or soap and water. In areas not identified as high-risk, ticks can be dropped off at the Health Unit or your health care provider for testing. This is done for surveillance purposes to see if the ticks can transmit Lyme.

  • See a health care provider right away if the tick has been attached for more than 24 hours or if it is engorged (this means it’s been feeding for some time). You should also get help if you experience symptoms of Lyme disease.