Why to avoid tick bites – everyone should read this.

28 March 2011 : Written by Rhian Evans
Why to avoid tick bites – everyone should read this. Tiny tick, big effect
As a camping website and as keen campers ourselves we sometimes think it’s important to let you know about something we think you should be aware of. And just by telling you it could mean you, your family, your friends and pets could ensure you don’t contract Lyme Disease. Please don’t stop reading at this point thinking it might be boring or that it’s not something which would affect you because, quite simply, if you do stuff outdoors then you can get a tick bite without even knowing; and this tiny little annoyance could lead to serious infection and long term ill-health. So, read a bit now and make sure it doesn’t happen…. 

So, why do you need to know about ticks?
Ticks in the United Kingdom can carry a number of infections which cause disease in both humans and animals. If left untreated, many of these infections can result in severe and debilitating symptoms. Early recognition of infection is most likely to occur if a patient is aware of the presence of disease, and can recognise the symptoms. 

What illness or infection could I get and how do I know?
The primary illness to affect humans is Lyme disease (Borreliosis). Symptoms usually begin a few days or weeks after a tick bite, but sometimes it can be months. 

What are the symptoms of Lyme Disease?
The most common sign of Lyme disease is an expanding rash; the rash can resemble a bull’s eye (round and with a central clearing), or it can appear more irregular. Other symptoms can include a fever, headache, chills, muscle and joint aches, and extreme fatigue. If left untreated, the infection can progress and result in much more serious complications including skin lesions, heart abnormalities and neurological symptoms. Such an infection is referred to as neuroborreliosis and can result in tingling, pain or an altered/loss of sensation and visual problems. Facial paralysis may also occur and, in severe cases, paralysis of the limbs.

If I get a tick bite will I definitely get the disease? No, not every tick carries infective organisms, and not every bite will transmit disease. However, the longer an infected tick is allowed to feed, the more likely it is that an infection will result. 

How do I know if I have a tick on me?
You are very unlikely to feel anything - ticks release a numbing saliva when they attach so you won’t feel a thing! So, do the Tick Check... Ticks prefer warm, moist, dark areas of the body so what you need to do is: 

1. Check the whole body. It may be helpful to have someone else inspect areas that are hard to see, or if you are alone use a mirror. 
2. Preferred areas include hidden in belly button; around or in the ear, hairline and scalp. Parts that bend: back of knee, elbow, between fingers and toes, underarms. Pressure points where clothing presses against skin: underwear elastic, belts, collar. 

So, where do these ticks come from then?
Ticks are usually found in long grass, leaf litter and on low plants where they wait for a host. In a split second they climb on as people or animals brush past,then look for a safe place to feed. There are usually more ticks in woodland and forest areas, but they can also be found in fields and parkland, especially where there are livestock and deer. However, ticks can also be present in town parks and gardens. 

Are they around all year?
Ticks are more abundant in late spring to early summer, and again during autumn. However, they can be active all year round during milder weather (above 3.5°C). 

How can I protect myself and family from a tick bite? 
1. Know where to expect ticks. Many areas in the UK with good ground cover and diverse wildlife (such as squirrels, hedgehogs, birds and deer) can pose a potential risk as wildlife feeds any ticks and allows their population to increase. Animals also transport ticks to new areas. 
2. Use a repellent, reading the instructions carefully. There is currently no vaccine to defend against Lyme disease so prevention is key. 
3. Tuck your trouser legs into your socks. This helps to deter ticks from crawling inside your trouser legs, down into shoes and through most socks. Wearing gaiters will also help to prevent this. 
4. Check your body carefully for ticks after being outdoors taking special care to check all over the body. 
5. Don’t bring ticks home. Check clothing and pets for ticks to avoid bringing them inside. 
6. If you do find a tick, carefully remove it by using a specialist tick-removal tool or fine-tipped tweezers. 
7. Protect your pets. Talk to your vet about tick treatments.
8. 

For loads more information, advice, case studies and ways in which you can volunteer to help contact BADA-UK (Borreliosis and Associated Diseases Awareness UK) – people who are very passionate about what they do and making sure none of us gets a horrendous disease. www.bada-uk.org and www.tickbitepreventionweek.org/

It’s Tick Bite Prevention Week 11th-17th April and our friends at BADA-UK will be working hard to spread the word – make sure you tell friends and family too. Check out the Tick Bite Prevention Week Website: http://www.tickbitepreventionweek.org/

Comments

Sarah, 30 March 2011 17:37
Excellent guide, thank you! I only wish I'd seen something like this before contracting Lyme.
Tickedoff, 29 March 2011 22:47
Could not agree more, I spent years camping, and trekking and never remember seeing a tick or a bullseye rash, I now have chronic lyme disease due to a very delayed diagnosis. I wish I had seen this information years ago, I had never even heard of Lyme Disease.
Laurence Swift, 29 March 2011 20:34
Agree with Jeanie. A good guide. Mentions town parks & gardens. Doesn't waffle about different kinds of ticks - the bacteria are not very selective about their hosts and neither are the ticks. We call these here "sheep ticks" or "hedgehog ticks" - doesn't matter, if they bite you anyway. Could have mentioned light-coloured clothing like white socks. It ought to mention that if you find a tick, take it with you to the Doc, or better a vet.
Lesley, 29 March 2011 19:48
Very useful information. I used to go camping and horse riding but I never saw any of the ticks that infected me over the years. I struggled with deteriorating, undiagnosed Lyme Disease for decades until I found a private doctor a couple of years ago who understood what was at the root of my ill health. It's an awful illness and it still seems to be poorly understood by the NHS - hence my long-term lack of a correct diagnosis. Thanks for such a good article.
Jeanie, 29 March 2011 18:09
One of the BEST guides I've seen, clear, concise and informative with none of that BS about ticks not transmitting the infection until they've been attached 24 hours. Mine was attached no more than 9 hours and I contracted Lyme!

Thank you.

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