Ticks and Lyme disease
Ticks are tiny blood-sucking arachnids which can be found in areas of dense vegetation, such as long grass or bracken. Ticks can attach themselves to you and/or your dog and feed on blood by biting through the skin.
Ticks are known to carry a variety of diseases. The most serious of these is Lyme disease, which can be transmitted through the bite of an infected tick.
Ticks that may cause Lyme disease are found all over the UK, but high-risk areas include grassy and wooded areas in southern England including Buckinghamshire.
Only a small number of ticks are infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. A tick bite can only cause Lyme disease if the tick has already bitten an infected animal.
It's still important to be aware of ticks and to safely remove them as soon as possible, just in case.
How can you prevent this?
If you are planning to go walking in an area of dense vegetation, consider the following:
- Wear trousers and long-sleeved shirts. Keep cuffs fastened and trousers tucked into socks
- Wear shoes or boots rather than open sandals
- Use an insect repellent that can protect against ticks for several hours
- If you find a tick, remove it quickly, preferably with a specially-designed tick removal tool. These are better than household tweezers as they avoid the risk of squashing the tick and releasing fluids into your skin. In an emergency, you can use a thread of cotton looped around the tick’s mouthparts, which you then pull steadily upwards
- Dogs are also vulnerable to ticks, consult your vet for insect repellent or a tick collar
- After your walk, carefully brush all clothing and examine yourself for ticks, pay special attention to their favourite feeding places:
- The backs of knees
- Around the groin
- Under the arms
- The hairline and scalp, especially on small children
If part of the tick breaks off or you think any part of it may be left in your skin, wash the site thoroughly. Do not worry about digging with a needle as that may do more damage. Your body will deal with any embedded remains. Consult a doctor if the small area of redness gets worse.
Further information on tick bites and Lyme disease can be found via the NHS website.