As the milder air begins to warm our climate, ticks will soon be on the warpath in search of hot-blooded hosts.
Next week (24-30 March) is annual tick bite prevention week, and it gives every countryside goer the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with ways to avoid a tick bite, ways to spot them and what to do when you are being bitten.
Lyme disease is the most common tick-bourne disease in the UK, though ticks also harbour a range of other bacterial, viral, rickettsial and protozoal diseases. If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause extreme fatigue, joint pain and swelling, and personality changes.
The Borreliosis and Associated Diseases Awareness UK charity (BADA-UK) is a group of volunteers from professional backgrounds, including teachers, medics and scientists. BADA-UK’s patron, Ray Mears, recommends several tips for when you’re out stalking, shooting, fishing, or simply taking your children to the park.
The most important of these include knowing where to expect ticks (mainly areas that are home to squirrels, hedgehogs and deer), using a repellent, tucking your trousers into your socks, taking a walking stick to tap ticks off vegetation in front of you, checking your body and helping companions check places they can’t see, protecting your pets, and carrying a tick remover to correctly remove any offenders.
Ticks can be removed using fine-tipped (precision) tweezers or a tick-removal tool (BADA-UK recommends the O’Tom Tick Twister). It is important not to remove the tick by smothering it in petroleum jelly or burning it, which can cause it to regurgitate the infective fluids in its body.
BADA-UK also advises that, if bitten, you store the tick in a bag labelled with the date of the bite and freeze it. If you should become ill, it can help doctors make an accurate diagnosis.
Stay safe this summer and don’t let those bloodsuckers ruin your day.