Ticks are tiny, spider-like creatures which tend to live in moist areas of dense vegetation or long grass in woodland, grassland, moorland, heathland and some urban parks and gardens. Although most active during the summer months, ticks are year-round pests which feed on the blood of birds and mammals, including humans.
A small number will carry the bacteria which causes Lyme Disease, which can be spread to humans bitten by infected ticks and, if left untreated, can cause severe symptoms. Caught early, Lyme Disease is easily treated, but it is important that we all reduce the risks of being bitten by following some simple advice when out walking and cycling:
- Stick to recognised rights of way (footpaths etc)
- Avoid long grass
- Wear trousers tucked into socks and long-sleeved tops
- Apply insect repellant to exposed skin
- Check yourself and your pet daily for ticks, especially after walks
If you’re a regular walker, you could buy your own tick remover tool; these are inexpensive and available online or from pet shops.
South Down National Park Authority’s Tick Awareness Page offers helpful information at: https://www.southdowns.gov.uk/be-tick-aware,
and you can read more about symptoms and treatment on the NHS website at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lyme-disease/NHS
Remember that only a small number of ticks are infected so we shouldn’t worry about getting out and enjoying the beautiful countryside, but please be aware and take some simple steps to stay safe.