With the fine weather bringing families into the great outdoors over the holidays, Hampshire County Council is urging everyone to be ‘Tick Aware’ when spending time in urban and rural parks and gardens, and countryside. Recent sun and rain have created perfect conditions for ticks to be active and these tiny insects can transmit bacteria such as Lyme disease.
Councillor Judith Grajewski, Executive Member for Public Health at the Local Authority, said:
Ticks thrive in summer, particularly in the kind humid conditions that we’ve been experiencing, so be sure to cover your limbs if you are out walking in wooded areas or long grass where they wait to attach themselves to passers-by. Don’t forget to check pets too.
Keeping to footpaths and avoiding long grass when out walking is the best way to avoid being bitten by ticks. Other advice to people walking in areas known to have a high tick population is to:
• Wear appropriate clothing (a long-sleeve shirt and trousers tucked into your socks)
• Use an insect repellent
• Wear light coloured fabrics that may help you spot a tick on your clothes
• Inspect your skin for ticks, particularly at the end of the day, including your head, neck and skin folds (armpits, groin and waist)
• Check your children’s head and neck areas, including their scalp
• Check that pets do not bring ticks into your home in their fur
If you do get bitten by a tick, removing it quickly and correctly can help to reduce any potential risk. The only safe way to remove a tick is to use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, or an easy-to-use device which can be purchased from pharmacies or vets. Then:
• Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull upwards slowly and firmly, as mouthparts left in the skin can cause a local infection
• Once removed, apply antiseptic to the bite area and keep an eye on it for several weeks for any changes
• Contact your GP if you begin to feel unwell or develop a circular red skin rash, often described as a bull’s-eye rash, and remember to tell them that you were bitten by a tick
See Public Health England’s tick aware leaflet for advice on ticks (see below) or visit NHS Choices for more information on signs, symptoms and treatments for Lyme disease.