Walking in the countryside this summer? Watch out there may be ticks about

Written by Tony Millett.

Close up of a tickClose up of a tickIt is being reported to Marlborough News Online that this summer some parts of the Marlborough area have more than their usual share of ticks.   And walkers are being advised to be ‘tick aware’ so they know what to do should they come into contact with the bugs.

Ticks are very small spider-like creatures which feed on the blood of animals and people and are often found in dense vegetation or long grass, but can also be found in woodlands, grasslands, moorland and some urban parks and gardens.

Ticks do not jump or fly, but wait on vegetation and climb onto animals or people. They then bite to attach themselves to the skin and start feeding on their new host's blood. It can be several days before they drop off.

Ticks sometimes transmit bacteria which can cause a potentially serious illnesses such as Lyme Disease. This can be treated effectively with antibiotics if caught early.

Wiltshire Council have been running a 'tick aware' campaign and their corporate director, Maggie Rae, has said: “Tick bites can often go unnoticed, but people really need to be aware of what to do if they are bitten, because spotting and removing the ticks and beginning treatment as soon as possible is key to preventing more serious illnesses.”

Tick on host's skin - feedingTick on host's skin - feedingYou can find out more about ticks at the Public Health England website - learn about Lyme Disease on this NHS website.  There is very good government video introducing the tick that is available through You Tube.   

You can also find out how to help research into ticks.

Here is a government do-it-yourself guide to tick removal that also enables you - with the plastic container - to help with the research:  
1.    Use a pair of fine-tipped forceps or tweezers, or tick removal hooks (do not use fingers) to grip the head of the attached tick, as close to the point of attachment on the skin as possible.
2.    Gently apply pressure and pull steadily upwards, without twisting and taking care not to crush the tick.
3.    Place the tick(s) in a plastic container and ensure the lid is securely fastened.
4.    Wash hands and area around the bite site after tick removal.
5.    If you develop any symptoms of illness (rash, fever, flu-like symptoms) following tick removal, please seek advice from your GP.