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Out in the fresh air? Be tick aware!

Recent weather has created perfect conditions for ticks to be active

With the start of the school holidays, and government advice encouraging us to make the most of the fresh air, Hampshire County Council is urging everyone to be ‘tick aware’ when spending time outdoors, whether in urban and rural parks and gardens, or open countryside. Changeable weather over the past few weeks has created perfect conditions for ticks to be active and these tiny insects can transmit bacteria such as Lyme disease.

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, Hampshire’s Executive Lead Member for Adult Services and Public Health, said: “Ticks thrive in the sort of humid weather we’ve been experiencing at the start of the holiday period, so be sure to cover your arms and legs if you are out walking in wooded areas or long grass where they wait to attach themselves to passers-by. Don’t forget to check pets too.”

The best way to avoid being bitten by ticks when out walking is to keep to footpaths and avoid long grass. Other advice to people walking in areas known to have a high tick population is to:

• Wear appropriate clothing (a long-sleeve shirt and trousers tucked into your socks); • Use an insect repellent; • Wear light coloured fabrics that may help you spot a tick on your clothes; • Inspect your skin for ticks, particularly at the end of the day, including your head, neck and skin folds (armpits, groin and waist); • Check your children’s head and neck areas, including their scalp; • Check that pets do not bring ticks into your home in their fur.

If you do get bitten by a tick, removing it quickly and correctly can help to reduce any potential risk. The only safe way to remove a tick is to use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, or an easy-to-use device which can be purchased from pharmacies or vets. Then:

• Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull upwards slowly and firmly, as mouth parts left in the skin can cause a local infection • Once removed, apply antiseptic to the bite area and keep an eye on it for several weeks for any changes • Contact your GP if you begin to feel unwell or develop a circular red skin rash, often described as a bull’s-eye rash, and remember to tell them that you were bitten by a tick.

See Public Health England’s tick aware pages for advice on ticks or visit the NHS website for more information on signs, symptoms and treatments for Lyme disease.

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