Staying put for summer doesn’t always mean you’ll stay safe
– Charity Lyme Disease Action warns UK holidaymakers to be aware of ticks this summer
Even if you’re neither patriotic nor sporty, many of us will be tempted to spend parts of the summer in the UK, joining in with Diamond Jubilee celebrations and Olympic fever – or just watching it at home on TV.
You may think that a summer at home in the UK makes for a less stressful time: there’s no flight to miss, no language to learn, no nasty jabs required and certainly no malaria tablets to take. But those who holiday in familiar surroundings may not necessarily be familiar with ticks.
Ticks – tiny (the size of a full stop on an A4 page) blood-sucking parasites – peak in population from April to October. Found throughout the UK, people need to be careful however they enjoy the great outdoors, whether camping, riding, cycling or walking. But, so too must they be careful if they’re picnicking with friends, sunbathing in city parks, or just relaxing in the garden at home.
Says Stella Huyshe-Shires, Chair of the charity Lyme Disease Action, “We certainly don’t want people to be put off spending their holidays in the UK, but it’s important for everyone to be aware of ticks, to know how to avoid bites, and to know what steps to take if they do find they’ve been bitten.”
Lyme disease causes a range of unpleasant symptoms which may include a circular red rash, headaches, a stiff neck, extreme fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and disturbances of sight, hearing, digestive system and sleep. If left untreated it can progress to the joints, the heart and the nervous system.
To reduce the risk of being bitten by an infected tick, charity Lyme Disease Action advises people to take the following precautions this summer:
- Wear light-coloured clothing so ticks are easier to spot
- Ensure you brush your clothing off before going inside
- Use an insect repellent effective against ticks (look for those containing the chemical DEET)
- Keep to pathways and try to avoid areas of overgrown vegetation
- Check for ticks regularly during the day and very carefully when you wash or shower after being outside
- Remove any ticks found attached as soon as possible
- Have a tick remover at home or pack one if holidaying elsewhere. Tick removers are available from Lyme Disease Action from £4.99 including p&p.
Ticks should be removed immediately with a tick removal tool. Do not try to pull the tick out with your fingers, burn the tick or cover it with creams or chemicals. If you don’t have a tick removal tool, use a thread of cotton wound round close to the skin and pull upwards or, alternatively, cut a slit in a plastic card and slide that under the tick’s body.
If you have been bitten by a tick and notice any of the above symptoms, seek medical help straight away. Diagnosed and treated early, Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics. NB tick bites do not itch like mosquito bites, so awareness is important to aid diagnosis.
Lyme Disease Action (www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk) is a charity striving for greater awareness of Lyme disease and associated tick-borne diseases.
Ends 30 March 2012
Note to Editors:
A Lyme disease poster, showing how to remove a tick correctly, and leaflets on Lyme disease, are available for publication if required or for readers to take to their own local GP or veterinary practice. A fact sheet is also available. Tick removers can be ordered via the Lyme Disease Action website and cost from £4.99 including P & P.
Press: Issued by Lyme Disease Action’s press office (www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk).
For more information, or to speak to Stella Huyshe-Shires, the Chair of Lyme Disease Action, please contact Sue Ockwell or Helena Hamlyn via email – firstname.lastname@example.org – or ring 020 8891 4440.