Serious infections including Lyme disease are spread by ticks which can affect the skin, nervous and respiratory systems and major organs including the heart, liver, kidneys and eyes. Ticks prefer wooded areas, long grass and bracken, especially where deer, sheep and other large mammals are found and can carry harmful bacteria, which can be passed on when they bite.
You can take precautions to avoid being bitten by following these recommendations:
- Wear long sleeved shirts and trousers
- Wear gaiters or tuck trousers into socks
- Use insect repellent containing DEET
- Check skin and clothes at the end of the walk for ticks
- Always check children and pets for ticks.
The majority of people who are bitten do not become ill, but anyone who does feel ill after finding a tick on them or after visiting an area where there are ticks should see a doctor. Symptoms may include skin rashes, chills, fever, headaches, joint and muscle pain, tiredness, loss of appetite and generally feeling unwell.
Do not try to remove ticks using fingers or by burning, using creams, petroleum jelly or nail varnish. The best way to reduce the chance of infection is to remove it safely as soon as possible. The aim is to remove all of the tick gently without squeezing the body, to prevent the tick from regurgitating its stomach contents back into the bite wound. Use a tick removal tool, which is available from vets and outdoors shops, fine nose tweezers or even a loop of cotton and carefully grasp the tick as close as possible to the skin and slowly draw it out. Once it has been removed, clean the bite with anti-septic.
SLDC’s Principal Environment and Housing Officer, Sean Hall, said, “Many people who enjoy walking and mountain biking in the Lake District may not be aware of the risks from tick bites. We want to ensure that the public are aware of the potential risks and what to do if they find ticks or if they think they may have been bitten by one.”
Further information is available on the SLDC website at www.southlakeland.gov.uk or check out www.tickbitepreventionweek.org