Ticks & Lyme Disease
As many of you will be starting to make the most of the warmer weather, we thought it might be a good time to just raise awareness of ticks and the complications they bring if bitten. By following some very simple guidelines, we can help to protect ourselves against tick bites and potential complications that they could bring.
Ticks are related to spiders, mites and scorpions. There are many different species of tick living in Britain, each preferring to feed on the blood of different animal hosts. The one most likely to bite humans is the Sheep tick (also known as the Deer Tick or Blacklegged Tick). These ticks are most commonly found in wooded areas and prefer to feed on deer. They are very small, reddish brown in colour, and turn a darker brown when filled with blood. These ticks are also most likely to attach themselves to our household pets.
Ticks can carry Lyme disease which may be transmitted to people through their bite. There is currently no vaccination available against Lyme disease.
Preventing tick bites
Late spring, early summer and autumn are peak times for tick bites. It’s important to take preventive measures against tick bites and also look out for ticks after visiting affected areas.
The following precautions might help to prevent Lyme disease:
- keep to footpaths and avoid long grass when out walking
- wear a long-sleeved shirt
- tuck your trousers into your socks
- wear light-coloured clothes (to help you spot a tick on them)
- use insect repellent
- check yourself for ticks and remove any promptly
- check your children and pets for ticks
How to remove a tick
If you find a tick on your or your child’s skin, remove it using a pair of tweezers that won’t squash the tick (such as fine-tipped tweezers) or a tick removal tool (available from pet shops or vets).
Gently grip the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull steadily away from the skin without crushing the tick. If you use a tick removal tool, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Wash your skin with water and soap afterwards, then apply an antiseptic cream to the skin around the bite.
Don’t use a lit match head or substances such as alcohol or petroleum jelly to force the tick out.
If you or your child has been bitten by a tick and you have any concerns, please contact your GP for further advice and treatment.