Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Watch those Ticks

One of the problems of summer walking in shorts is the need to be alert to the possibility of picking up one or more ticks.

Quite recently, one of our members reported picking up six of these little creatures while doing his pre-walk check for the Rosedale Abbey A-walk. Subsequently, on the day he actually led his walk, he decided not to wear his shorts and put on his 'long trousers' instead.

There are various 'tales' of what to do in the event of picking up a tick. Having studied some of these, in my opinion, I think one of the best things to do is to carry a small tool (called a 'tick remover') in one's rucksack (see pictures below). These can be used to safely and easily remove a tick by strategically gripping it beneath its body and then 'unscrewing' it.

Photograph of O'TOM tick remover
Photograph of CANAC tick remover
In relation to using the above tools, Martin-H said that a tick should always be unscrewed in an anticlockwise direction. However, the instructions that accompany the above devices do not suggest any particular preference for the direction of rotation. Apparently, either direction will do.

One important thing to remember when removing a tick: don't squeeze it since such an action could cause the 'injection' of its contents into the area of the body to which it is attached. Naturally, this could cause infection if the tick is itself carrying some form of disease.

DEET-based insect repellents are available commercially in a variety of different forms (such as sprays, creams, patches and wipes). These have been shown to be quite effective in preventing tick bites.

Case Study:
I know of a keen walker who picked up a tick and because he really didn't know what it was, he did nothing about it. A short time later the tick dropped off - once it had had its fill of blood. However, by this time, the tick had infected him with Lyme Disease. The symptoms of this were redness near the infected area (a bullseye pattern), a rash, tiredness and an influenza-like condition. After seeking medical help, supported by the use of antibiotics, he eventually recovered and returned to normal health. The person involved in this case study was very fortunate in that he consulted a 'country' doctor who was familiar with the signs and symptoms of tick bites and Lyme Disease.

Use the above four Internet links to find out more.



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