Ticks, which are most commonly found in woodland and areas of open grassland, can carry harmful bacteria which causes Lyme Disease – a nasty bacterial infection that can cause pain throughout the body and affects between 2,000 and 3,000 people in England and Wales a year. And as the clocks go forward and the weather improves, weekend walkers are being warned to be aware of the dangers.
Health experts said the best ways to avoid being bitten by a tick while out in the countryside were sticking to paths and avoiding overhanging vegetation unless necessary, wearing long-sleeved tops and full-length trousers and protecting areas such as the back of the knees, armpits and the groin area. Opt for light coloured clothing to easily identify any ticks present that may become attached.
The Big Tick Project – a nationwide research survey in collaboration with Bristol University that looks at the number of ticks on dogs – said numbers of the tiny bloodsuckers are increasing for a variety of reasons.
A spokesman for the project said: “Many factors may have contributed to the increase in tick numbers across the UK.
“Changing weather patterns mean prolonged periods where conditions are favourable for tick survival, particularly wetter summers and warmer winters.
“A lack of awareness amongst pet-owners, leading to inadequate treatment and prevention may also play a significant role in contributing to problems for dogs.
“However, despite the growth of tick populations across the country, only 12 percent of people are actually concerned by the risk posed by ticks.
“More worryingly, 47 percent of pet-owners were not aware that they too are at risk of infection from tick-borne diseases.”
Lyme disease symptoms can be tricky to identify.
Some people will develop flu-like symptoms in the early stages, such as a high temperature, headaches and tiredness and loss of energy.
A rash can also appear within the first four weeks after being bitten, often in the shape as a bull’s eye on a dartboard. Up until now, blood tests have been carried out to confirm if a person has the condition.
Professor Gillian Leng, director of health and social care at Nice, said: “For most people with Lyme disease, a course of antibiotics will be effective, so it is important we diagnose and treat people as soon as possible.
“A person with Lyme disease may present with a wide range of symptoms, so we have clear advice for professionals about the use of lab tests for diagnosis and the most appropriate antibiotic treatments.
“If a characteristic bull’s eye rash is present, healthcare professionals should feel confident in diagnosing Lyme disease.”
Published at Sun, 31 Mar 2019 13:58:00 +0000