The Middlesex-London Health Unit is warning the public about the risk of tick bites following the first human case of Lyme disease confirmed this year in the region — and much earlier in the season than is typical.

The health unit says an adult in Middlesex County has been diagnosed with Lyme disease, which is caused by a bacteria transmitted through bites from black-legged ticks, or deer ticks.

Typically, initial symptoms include a rash in the shape of a bull’s eye, headaches, fever or chills, fatigue and muscle and joint pain. Without treatment, it can impact people’s joints, heart and nervous system and cause long-term health issues.

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“This case is significant, in part, because it was diagnosed much earlier in the year than we typically see Lyme disease cases,” said associate medical officer of health Dr. Joanne Kearon.

“With warming climates, ticks survive the winter. We’re therefore seeing ticks earlier, tick bites earlier, and unfortunately, Lyme disease earlier than ever.”

The county is considered an “established risk area” for the kinds of ticks that cause Lyme disease and ticks are often found in wooded areas and long grasses. People are urged to contact their health care provider as soon as they notice a bite as antibiotic treatment is available and recovery is more likely the earlier treatment begins.

“If you find a tick on a person’s body, remove it as soon as possible. Ticks need to be attached for at least 24 hours to transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease. Ticks removed from your body can be submitted to our team or to for identification,” Kearon said.

More information can be found on the website.