Ticks - tiny (the size of a full stop on an A4 page) blood-sucking parasites - peak in population from April to October, and are found throughout the UK, North America and across Europe.
This means that we need to be careful abroad, whether we’re staying at a campsite in France, walking through forests in Scandinavia or are out and about in North America. It’s also important to be aware of ticks here in the UK, whether you’re heading somewhere remote or looking forward to a city break – ticks are also found in London parks.
Lyme disease – caused by the bite of an infected tick - 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 holidaymakers 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 (available from Lyme Disease Action from just £4.99 including p&p) if walking or holidaying away from home
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.
To find out more please visit www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk