Be Tick aware!
Spending time in nature is important for our physical and mental health and wellbeing. Whilst you are out and about enjoying all that Plymouth and Devon has to offer, it is important to be tick aware. The Public Health Team at Plymouth City Council, along with other local authorities in the South West, is supporting Public Health England (PHE) with their tick awareness campaign. Please watch this helpful video from PHE which tells you all you need to know about ticks, where they can be found, and their public health importance.
Preventing, identifying and removing ticks
Where can ticks be found?
Ticks are usually found in areas such as woodlands, grasslands and moorlands as they provide a dense vegetation layer and a suitable range of hosts on which ticks can feed. However, ticks can also be found in some urban parks and gardens. In England, tick activity increases during spring, peaking during April to June.
Preventing a tick bite
To reduce your chance of getting a tick bite when enjoying outdoor activities:
- walk on clearly defined paths to avoid brushing against vegetation where ticks may be present
- wear light coloured clothing so that ticks crawling on clothing can be spotted and brushed off
- use an insect repellent that can repel ticks and prevent them from climbing onto clothing or attaching to skin (always follow the manufacturer’s guidance)
- wear long trousers and long sleeved tops to reduce the direct exposure of ticks to your skin, making it more difficult for them to find a suitable area to attach
Recognising ticks and performing a tick check
It is also important to carry out a regular tick check after taking part in outdoor activities (e.g. walking, running, gardening, camping, picnicking). A tick check is carried out by looking and feeling for ticks that may have attached to the skin. By performing a tick check, the chance of infection is reduced because feeding ticks are spotted and removed quickly.
Prompt and correct tick removal
We know that the likelihood of getting Lyme disease increases the longer a tick is feeding. Timely and correct tick removal can reduce this risk and the need to prescribe antibiotics. The safest way to remove a tick is to use fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, and pull upwards slowly and firmly.
What is Lyme disease?
Early symptoms in humans may include mild flu-like symptoms including fever, headache and fatigue. Symptoms can sometimes be accompanied with a characteristic bulls-eye rash (called erythema migrans). It is important to know, however, that not all cases of Lyme disease have this rash. Lyme disease is treatable with a course of antibiotics. However, if left untreated, infection can develop to late signs, affecting the joints, nervous system, or the heart.
You can send ticks to PHE for identification and to help them record tick distribution on a national scale. More information about this is on the GOV.UK website.
If you want to know more about what we are doing to support tick awareness locally then you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org in our Public Health team.