Councillor Patricia Stallard, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Public Health, said, “Ticks are often found in wooded areas or long grass and they can easily attach themselves to an animal or person as they brush by. They may be tiny but they can transmit bacteria that cause diseases, such as Lyme disease, so it’s important to cover up and be on the lookout for bites.”
Ticks are found in moist areas of dense vegetation or long grass in woodland, grassland, moorland, heathland and some urban parks and gardens. They can be found throughout the year, but are most active between spring and autumn.
Keeping to footpaths and avoiding long grass when out walking is the best way to avoid being bitten by ticks. Other advice to walkers in wooded or heath areas known to have a high tick population such as the New Forest is to:
• Wear appropriate clothing in tick-infested areas (a long-sleeve shirt and trousers tucked into your socks)
• Use insect repellents
• Make sure that ticks are not brought home on your clothes - wearing 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 waistband)
• Check your children’s head and neck areas, including their scalp (skin on top of their head)
• 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. 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 and remember to tell them that you were bitten by a tick
Visit NHS Choices for more information on signs, symptoms and treatments for Lyme disease.