Hampshire County Council is stepping up its advice to residents to be ‘tick aware’ while enjoying time outside, or working outdoors.
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.
Dr Ruth Milton, Director of Public Health, said: “Ticks can transmit bacteria that cause diseases, such as Lyme disease, which can lead to very serious conditions if left untreated. Tick bites often go unnoticed, and the tick can remain feeding for several days before dropping off. The longer the tick is in place, the higher the risk of it passing on the infection.”
Ticks can attach themselves to an animal or person as they brush by. The best way to avoid being bitten by ticks when you are in wooded or heath areas known to have a high tick population such as the New Forest is by:
Keeping to footpaths and avoiding long grass when out walking
- Wearing appropriate clothing in tick-infested areas (a long-sleeve shirt and trousers tucked into your socks)
- Using insect repellents
- Making sure that ticks are not brought home on your clothes – wearing light coloured fabrics that may help you spot a tick on your clothes
- Inspecting your skin for ticks, particularly at the end of the day, including your head, neck and skin folds (armpits, groin, and waistband)
- Checking your children’s head and neck areas, including their scalp (skin on top of their head)
- Checking 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.
- Remove the tick as soon as possible
- 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 all good retailers.
- 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.