Public Health England (PHE) is encouraging everyone in our region to become ‘tick aware’ this summer and learn how to prevent infections from the diseases associated with them.
Ticks are tiny spider-like creatures and are found in woodlands, parks and gardens. They are most prevalent in late spring, summer and autumn. PHE is asking the public to be mindful of getting bitten as we venture outdoors during the warmer climes.
PHE Head of Medical Entomology, Dr Jolyon Medlock, said: “Now is a good time to think about ticks and what actions to take to avoid the diseases they carry.
“The number one thing that people can do to stay safe from ticks is to carry out a tick check after spending time outdoors and remove ticks as soon as possible. If a tick is removed within 12 to 24 hours it will reduce the risk of being infected.
“As children are bitten mostly on the head, this is a very important area to check particularly behind the ears, at the hairline and on the neck. It is recommended that tweezers or a tick tool be used to remove ticks, as other methods may lead to infection.”
Lyme disease is the most significant tick-borne infection in the UK, causing an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 cases per year. Often the only symptom of Lyme disease is a rash, which gradually spreads from the site of the tick bite. The rash can cover a large area and last for weeks if left untreated. Some patients may also have ‘flu-like’ symptoms.
Cases of Lyme disease are often acquired through recreational activities including camping, walking, hiking and mountain-biking, where tick exposure is more likely. Areas where the infection has been transmitted in the UK include popular holiday destinations such as Exmoor, the New Forest, the South Downs, parts of Wiltshire and Berkshire, Thetford Forest, the Lake District, the Yorkshire moors and the Scottish Highlands.
Despite case numbers tripling between 2001 and 2012, many people remain unfamiliar with ticks, and the associated disease risk and tick bite prevention measures.
PHE is working with local councils to raise tick awareness and the risks to health.