Ticks and Lymes Disease

Detailed information on ticks and Lyme disease and what to do if you get bitten.

Ticks

What are ticks?

Ticks are tiny blood sucking parasites which live in woodland and grassy areas. They are often found in tall grass, where they will rest at the tip of a blade so as to attach themselves to a passing animal or human. The tick will usually drop off of the animal when full, but this may take several days.

Ticks have a harpoon-like structure in their mouth area that allows them to anchor firmly in place while sucking blood. Pulling a tick out forcefully may squeeze the contents of the tick back into the bite and often leaves the mouthpiece behind, which may result in infection

 

Lyme Disease

Most tick bites are harmless but, occasionally, the tick carries a small bacterium which can cause Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a serious infection and it is recommended that you see a doctor as soon as possible as the infection can cause serious illness. The disease might show itself as an expanding reddish, round rash in the area of the bite. Usually this will occur within three to thirty days of a bite. Early symptoms may resemble flu with swollen glands near the site, mild headaches, aching muscles and joints, and tiredness. If you suspect that a tick has bitten, inform your doctor. Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics and the earlier it is diagnosed, the better.

What do I do if I have been bitten by a tick?

Do not panic, but remove the tick as soon as possible. It is possible to remove the tick yourself but it is recommended that you always seek advice from your doctor.

Remove the tick by grasping it close to the skin with a pair of tweezers (or tick remover - available from veterinary surgeries). Apply gentle pressure, twist anti-clockwise and pull upwards. Do not squeeze the body of the tick or attempt to remove the tick through burning or chemicals. Save the tick in a sealed container in case you develop symptoms later. If the tick is accidentally pulled apart and the head remains in the skin, there may be a risk of infection from other microscopic organisms. This kind of infection is not related to Lyme disease but can still be unpleasant. Consult a doctor if infection occurs.

Public Health England leaflet gives further advice and it is recommended that you always seek advice from your doctor.

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