Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Be tick aware this summer

At this time of the year unfortunately there’s a danger we should all be cautious of when out and about, especially in areas of long grass and moorland. Places like these are the perfect habitat for the tiny blood sucking parasites, known as ticks.

Ticks are particularly prevalent between April and October. These tiny bloodsuckers attach themselves to exposed skin and need special care to remove as their head and body can detach. The greatest danger is infection which can lead to Lyme disease.

Lyme disease causes a range of unpleasant symptoms which may include a circular red rash, headaches, a stiff neck, extreme fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and disturbances of sight, hearing, digestive system and sleep. If left untreated it can progress to the joints, the heart and the nervous system.

To reduce the risk of being bitten by an infected tick, the charity Lyme Disease Action advises parents and their children to take the following precautions:

·         Wear long sleeves and trousers
·         Wear light-coloured clothing so ticks are easier to spot
·         Use an insect repellent effective against ticks (look for those containing the chemical DEET)
·         Keep to pathways and try to avoid areas of overgrown vegetation
·         Check for ticks regularly during the day
·         Remove any ticks found attached as soon as possible
·         Pack a tick remover if walking or holidaying away from home

Tick removal
Example of what to look out for!

Ticks should be removed immediately with a tick removal tool or fine pointed tweezers. Gently pull the tick's body away from your skin directly outwards, without jerking. Do not try to pull the tick out with your fingers, burn the tick or cover it with creams or chemicals.

If you have been bitten by a tick and notice any of the above symptoms, seek medical help straight away. Diagnosed and treated early, Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics.  NB tick bites do not itch like mosquito bites, so awareness is important to aid diagnosis.

For more information, help and advice about ticks and Lyme disease take a look at the Lyme Disease Action website, you will also find a number of useful leaflets and posters there. 

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