Lymes Disease, ticks and how to protect yourself.
Ticks are tiny insects which are related to scorpions, spiders and mites. They live in woodland, heathland, moorland and grassy areas. Ticks prefer to feed on blood and use animals as a hosts. They cannot fly or jump. Instead they climb up foliage and wait for passing animals or humans to catch their hooked front legs on. Once they have attached to a host they get blood by sucking and biting into the skin to feed. Mites are very small (poppy seed size) and have 8 legs when fully grown. As a tick feeds it swells, eventually becoming as big as a pea in size. Ticks can carry several diseases, one of which is Lymes disease.
What do I do if I have a tick on me?
Ticks should be removed in a particular way. You should never use chemicals or try to burn a tick to kill it this will only make the situation worse. If you are not confident in removing a tick, then you should make an appointment to see your doctor or other medical professional. Ticks should be removed with tweezers by gently pulling without twisting in any way. This ensures that the tick is fully removed from your skin. If this process is not correctly performed it is possible for the tick to be only half removed and to leave it’s mouthparts in the skin. This may lead to infection and will need medical treatment and antibiotics.
Protecting yourself from ticks and Lymes disease
In order to protect yourself from ticks there are several things you can do. Wearing trousers, gaiters and a good pair of boots should help prevent ticks attaching to you. Make sure you cover up when walking in woodland and long grasses and always check yourself, your clothes and your pets on your return.
What can I catch from a tick?
Ticks can carry several diseases, one of which is Lymes disease. Lymes disease is a serious illness in humans, it gives you flu like symptoms, lethargy (makes you tired) and may give you aches and pains. Approximately half of people that catch lymes disease will develop a classic bulls eye type rash, which can appear on any part of the body and not necessarily where they were bitten.
What do I do if I think I have Lymes disease?
If you suspect you have been bitten and contracted Lymes disease, visit your doctor urgently. Your doctor can quickly diagnose Lymes Disease and may be able to start treatment quickly, however if Lymes disease is not treated fast it can cause paralysis, arthritis, meningitis and long term health problems.
Watch the video that Public Health England have produced.
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