Beware of tick bites when you are out enjoying a day in the countryside. Order our printed advice leaflet A Tick in Time or get tips online on how to avoid being bitten by ticks.
Prevention of Lyme Disease
Ticks infected by bacteria can cause a potentially serious disease.
Lyme disease is caused by infection from bacteria spread by infected ticks when they attach to your skin and feed on your blood.
Where and When are Ticks Found?
Ticks are usually found in places such as forests and heathland, so the infection is most likely to be caught in these areas. The South Downs in Sussex is a known UK hotspot.
Ticks are very small (about the size of a poppy seed) and can easily be overlooked. Late spring, early summer and autumn are the most likely times for infection, as these are the peak times for tick feeding.
Most ticks are not infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Even if a tick is infected, it does not spread the bacteria in the first few hours of its feed, so there is a very low risk of infection if a tick is removed quickly.
What to Look For
A tick bite usually looks like a lump with a small scab on the skin surface at the site of the bite. Most people with Lyme disease then develop a reddish skin rash in a ring shape and this may be the only sign of infection. The rash spreads out from the site of a bite after 3 to 30 days.
Other common symptoms with early Lyme disease include tiredness, headache, joint pains and flu-like symptoms.
Without treatment, these symptoms may last for weeks or even longer. There can be serious complications, and in some cases, these can occur several years later. Left untreated, the disease can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system and can cause mental problems.
Early detection and treatment of the disease helps to relieve the symptoms and shorten the illness. For this reason, it is important to be aware of the symptoms, particularly the rash, so that treatment can be given early.
How to Avoid Being Bitten by Ticks
Cover your arms and legs, wear shoes rather than sandals and tuck long trousers into socks.
Wear white or light-coloured clothing so ticks can be more easily seen.
Avoid ticks' favourite places by walking in the middle of paths.
Check yourself after sitting on logs or leaning against tree trunks.
If you picnic, use a light coloured picnic blanket to sit on. The underside of the blanket can be more easily checked for the presence of ticks.
Check your pets for ticks when they come into the house and keep pets that have outside exposure off furniture especially bedding.
Fit your cat or dog with a tick collar, which are cheap to buy and a sensible precaution.
Spray your clothing with an effective anti-tick pesticide. There are a variety in outdoor shops & chemists. Make sure you read the label carefully.
For more advice either go to our links under Other Websites, or if you live in Eastbourne use the contact form below to order our printed leaflet A Tick in Time: Prevention of Lyme Disease, which includes an illustrated guide to safely removing a tick attached to your skin.
This leaflet can only be posted to Eastbourne addresses and is not available in electronic format.