Don’t let ticks ruin your outside fun this Spring!

With the arrival of Spring Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group is advising people to brush up on their knowledge of ticks, tiny spider-like creatures found in woodland and long grass, to minimise their risk of infection, especially during outdoor activities, like camping or hiking.

Ticks are present in most parts of the country and can be found in forests, woodland, heaths, moorland areas and urban parks.  Whilst irritating, most tick bites are harmless however, some ticks are infected with bacteria which can cause Lyme disease.

Dr Lindsay Kinlin, said
“Ticks that can transmit Lyme disease are very small – about the size of a poppy seed – and can easily be overlooked, so it is important to check regularly for attached ticks on the skin. 

Ticks prefer warm, moist places on your body, especially the groin area, waist, arm pits, behind the knee and along the hair line, so look out for anything as tiny as a freckle or a speck of dirt.”

Most ticks do not carry the infection, but if one is found it should be removed promptly.  Infected ticks are unlikely to transmit Lyme disease if they are removed in the early stages of attachment, generally the tick must be attached to an individual for 36 to 48 hours or more before it can spread the disease.  They can be removed with tweezers or special tick hooks, by pulling them gently upwards away from the skin.

To minimise the risk of being bitten, take these steps to protect yourself:

  • Keep to paths and away from long grass or overgrown vegetation if possible, as ticks crawl up long grass in their search for a feed
  • Wear appropriate clothing in tick infested areas (long sleeved shirt and long trousers tucked into socks). Light coloured fabrics are useful, as it is easier to see ticks against a light background
  • Consider using insect repellents, e.g. DEET
  • Inspect skin frequently and remove any attached ticks
  • At the end of the day, check again thoroughly for ticks, especially in skin folds
  • Make sure that children’s head and neck areas, including scalps, are properly checked
  • Check that ticks are not brought home on clothes
  • Check that pets do not bring ticks into the home on their fur

If you have been bitten by a diseased tick, symptoms of Lyme disease usually appear between 3 and 30 days and are similar to those of influenza.  If you are having flu-like symptoms, head-aches, muscle pain or joint pain, accompanied by a bulls-eye rash pattern on your skin you should make a GP appointment as soon as possible and remember to tell them you were bitten by a tick.