Ticks are very common nowadays, and Wiltshire and the New Forest are known to have particularly high populations. This is due to climate change and the massive increase in the numbers of wild deer. (Deer numbers are at their highest since the middle ages!) Another concern is the European tick species who are entering the country aboard travelling pets.
The tiny, hungry ticks position themselves on the very tips of vegetation until a suitable meal passes by. Once aboard, they bite and cement their mouthparts strongly into the skin and then settle in to feed for several days swelling to many times their original size.
During feeding, any diseases carried by the tick may be passed into the bloodstream:
• Lyme Disease is serious for dogs and people alike. The first signs are a circular rash around the bite (‘bull’s eye’ on human skin), fever, and swollen lymph nodes and joints. If untreated the infection may cause many problems including heart, joint or nerve diseases. If you are bitten by a tick, please visit www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk for advice.
• Babesiosis is common in Europe and is now appearing in the UK. It causes severe anaemia, jaundice and red urine.
For your pet: use effective tick REPELLENT products so the tick never gets a chance to bite. The most effective are available through your vet and come as either a collar or spot-on preparation.
For you: cover bare areas of skin with light coloured clothing and use insect repellents such as DEET.
Should you find a tick: promptly and carefully remove it using a TICK HOOK to prevent it releasing additional infection into the wound or leaving the mouthparts behind.