Enjoy the great outdoors but be tick aware

Lighter evenings and warmer weather means many of us are making the most of North Somerset’s countryside – but are you tick aware?

Ticks are small spider-like creatures that feed on the blood of animals, including people.

A warning sign showing a tick on a tree in woodland

They can be found where there are deer, small mammals or wild birds and tend to prefer damp, shady dense vegetation, leaf litter and long grass.

They can also be found in woodland, open country, public parks or gardens, particularly in the spring and autumn.

Bacterial infections such as Lyme disease can be spread to humans when they’re bitten by an infected tick so it’s important to know how to prevent tick bites and what to do if you’re bitten.

A few simple steps can help prevent the risk:

  • stick to paths, avoid brushing against vegetation, wear light clothing so ticks are easier to spot and brush off, and use insect repellent
  • look over your clothes and body regularly if you’re outdoors and brush off any ticks you see
  • carry out a thorough tick check when you get home by removing your clothing and having a good look and feel for ticks – look out for anything as small as a speck of dirt or a freckle.
  • if you do get bitten, removing the tick quickly and correctly can help reduce any potential risk of infection. The safest way is to use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool.
  • grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull upwards slowly and firmly, as mouthparts left in the skin can cause a local infection.
  • once removed, apply antiseptic to the bite area or wash with soap and water and keep an eye on it for several weeks for any changes.
  • Public Health England runs a tick surveillance scheme – please report all tick bites to tick@phe.gov.uk

Symptoms of Lyme disease can include flu-like symptoms and many people develop a distinctive circular rash.

If you have been bitten by a tick or recently spent time outdoors and develop flu-like symptoms, contact your GP or dial NHS 111.

Find out more at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/ticks