Ahead of Tick Bite Prevention Week which will run from March 22 – 28, and as the coronavirus lockdown starts to ease, the UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) is raising awareness.
BASC deer officer Audrey Watson said that as the UK started to emerge from lockdown, there would be more and more people out in the countryside. Lyme Disease-infected ticks are especially prevalent in The New Forest in Hampshire, Thetford Forest on the Norfolk / Suffolk border, Exmoor, the South Downs, woodland and heathland in Southern England, the Lake District, the North York moors and Scottish Highlands and Islands.
She said: “Ticks are carriers of a range of diseases, the most prominent of which is Lyme Disease. The bacteria responsible for the disease is passed into our bloodstream when a tick bites by burrowing into the skin. Lyme Disease is potentially very serious, and, if left untreated, can lead to chronic fatigue and eventually affect the joints, the heart and the nervous system. It can be treated with antibiotics if caught early enough but everyone needs to be able to recognise the signs - which include a characteristic bullseye rash – and certainly check themselves - and their dogs - after being in tick-prone areas.
“It is important to raise awareness of Lyme Disease as, while it is highly treatable, it can be a debilitating and long-lasting illness and the more that people are aware of it, the more likely they are to firstly take steps to avoid tick bites but also to seek early treatment if they suspect they may have the disease on finding the characteristic signs.
“The best way to reduce the chances of a tick bite are to wear long trousers and long sleeves, preferably light coloured to show up any ticks that land on you and not to walk through high bracken or high grass. You can buy tick-proof clothing impregnated with tick repellent and these do work very well.
“BASC has a large number of members who use and enjoy the countryside. As part of our service, we want to make them aware of the risks of tick-borne diseases.”