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Ticking the Boxes

Whenever you are in a tick habitat, whether it be a rural or woodland area or in an urban park:

CARRY a tick removal tool with you 

AVOID walking through long grass and sitting on tree stumps. 

WEAR: 

  • Tick repellant - on all exposed skin.

  • Long-sleeved tops and trousers.

  • Light coloured clothing to make spotting ticks easier. 

  • Clothes treated with Permethrin (to be extra safe).    

TUCK trousers into socks

CHECK: ​

  • Yourself and kids - when out and about and thoroughly after a shower. Remember to check hairline, navel, groin, between fingers and toes and behind the ears. 

  • Pets (& ensure tick treatments are up to date)

If you find an embedded tick be sure to use the correct removal technique (see below). 

If you develop flu-like symptoms, a bull's-eye rash, fatigue, muscle and joint pain or other unusual symptoms, regardless of whether or not you remember a tick bite, discuss the possibility of Lyme disease with your GP. 

REMEMBER:

  • Many people do not recall a tick bite.

  • Only about one third of people will develop a 'bull's-eye rash' (Erythema Migrans).

  • Lyme disease testing can be unreliable.

The Tool Box

Repellent

Repellants containing DEET are the most commonly recommended, however 

Autan and Mosiguard have been found to be more effective. These repellants can be sprayed onto exposed skin. 

Permethrin is a strong repellant and a good option if you are in a high risk area or will have increased exposure to ticks (e.g. camping). It is available as a spray (it should be sprayed on clothes and shoes but NOT directly onto skin) or you can buy pre-treated clothing. Permethrin is toxic to cats.

Tick Removers

  • Fine pointed tweezers (never blunt edged tweezers, which are more likely to leave the tick's mouth parts behind).

  • The TickCard - can be kept in your wallet with credit cards.

Antiseptic Wipes

Always wipe the bite site with antiseptic after removing the tick.

Pet Protection

Talk to your vet about tick protection options for cats and dogs. Make sure these are kept up to date and remember that pets can still transport ticks on their fur, even with some of these treatments. 

Tick Removal

Correct removal is crucial to keep the chances of transmission to a minimum. The likelihood of transmission of infection is greater the longer a tick is attached, so the sooner it is removed the better. 

Avoid:

  • Squeezing the body of the tick, which can result in the tick regurgitating infected fluids into the bloodstream of its host, therefore increasing the risk of transmission.

  • Suffocating or irritating the tick by using petroleum jelly or freezing or burning it (for the same reason as above).

  • Leaving the tick's mouth parts embedded - this can result in a localised infection, which may become more serious. 

  • Squashing the tick or puncturing its skin, either before or after removal, to ensure any infected contents are not released. 

  • Handling the tick with bare hands.

Fine Pointed Tweezers:

  1. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, making sure not to squeeze its body.

  2. Pull upwards with a slow, steady motion. NEVER twist (this is different to the method for a tick twister) or jerk.

  3. Disinfect the site with antiseptic. Wash hands thoroughly. 

O'Tom Tick Twister

  1. Choose the most suitable twister depending on the size of the tick (there are two in a pack).

  2. Engage the tool by approaching the tick from the side (the body of the tick is flat when unfed) until it is held securely.

  3. Lift the tool very lightly and TURN IT (clockwise or counter-clockwise). The tick detaches itself after 2-3 rotations.

  4. Disinfect the site with antiseptic. Wash hands thoroughly.

The TickCard

  1. The TickCard has two notches, choose the appropriate one depending on the size of the tick.

  2. Slip the notch of the TickCard under the tick.

  3. Gently push the card forward and upward with steady, even pressure.

  4. Allow the tick to let go and be pulled out of the skin easily and effortlessly.

  5. Disinfect the site with antiseptic. Wash hands thoroughly. 

To dispose of the tick, place it in a tissue and squash it, ensuring fluids stay in the tissue, then flush it away or put it in the rubbish.

It is recommended to take a note of the date of the bite, just in case the person or animal becomes ill in the weeks or months to come. To keep the the tick for identification by a doctor/vet, place it in a sealed plastic bag and store it in the freezer.

Warning Signs

Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial for Lyme disease. If you have these symptoms and feel you may have been exposed to ticks, go to the doctor. 

  • Flu-like symptoms (swollen glands, aching muscles, headaches, fever and chills, neck stiffness)

  • A bull's-eye rash (Erythema Migrans). Up to two thirds of people will not develop this rash but if you do, it is in itself diagnostic of Lyme i.e treatment should be started regardless of whether there are other symptoms or a positive blood test. Some rashes are harder to identify as being a bull's-eye rash.

  • Fatigue

  • Bell's Palsy (weakness or paralysis of muscles on one side of the face)

  • Nausea / digestive issues

If Lyme is missed and left untreated it can become a multi-systemic, seriously debilitating illness. Symptoms can include:

  • Neurological symptoms (e.g. peripheral neuropathy, Bell's Palsy etc.)

  • Joint pain

  • Cognitive problems (e.g. poor memory and concentration, getting lost)

  • Disturbed sleep

  • Headaches & migraines

  • Meningitis

  • Heart problems (myocarditis, pericarditis, heart block, heart failure)

  • Vision and hearing problems (including light and sound sensitivity) 

  • Dysautonomia (trouble regulating blood pressure and heart rate)

  • Vertigo and dizzines

  • Anxiety and depression

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