Troublesome Ticks

What do ticks look like?

Ticks look similar to a small black or brown spider. They are found in grassy or wooded areas.

Ticks can be found all year round, although there is a lower risk of bites when the weather is mild. The peak period is from late spring through summer, from May to July.

I’ve found a tick, what should I do?

If you or your dog has been bitten remove the tick immediately. Early identification and removal  of a tick can decrease the risk of transmitting Lyme disease.

How do I safely remove a tick off me or my dog?

Inexpensive tick removers are widely available from pet shops and veterinary practices. They can be used on humans as well as dogs! The extractors come with their own set of instructions so always follow the manufacturer’s advice.

If you don’t have a tick remover then the following technique is appropriate for fine tweezers or simply finger nails:

  • Grasp the tick by its head ensuring you have it as close to the skin as possible

  • Pull firmly upwards without making any twisting or jerking movements

  • Check the tick is whole. It should have a distinct head, body and 8 legs

  • If a body part is left in the skin, remove quickly with tweezers

  • Always try to apply a skin disinfectant to the site of the bite once the tick has been removed

Never try to remove a tick by burning or using chemicals such as nail polish remover or alcohol.

What is Lyme disease?

Some ticks carry the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, commonly known as Lyme disease, in their guts that can be transmitted to a host when bitten.

There is no way of identifying whether a tick is carrying the disease or not. You must treat all tick bites as potentially infectious. Remove and destroy the tick as soon as you find one.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Symptoms may not start until weeks after being bitten.

It is vital to monitor the bite site for a round red “bull’s eye” rash that can spreads up to 75cm in diameter. This type of rash is indicative of Lyme disease.

The rash may be accompanied by flu like symptoms:

  • Headaches

  • Chills

  • Joint and muscle pain

  • Fever

Should you suffer any of these symptoms after noticing a tick bite seek medical attention immediately.

I have a rash around a tick bite, could it be Lyme disease?

Lyme disease causes a large red “bull’s eye” rash that develops gradually around a tick bite.

A patchy red rash that appears within a couple of hours of being bitten will not be caused by Lyme Disease. See a doctor if this sort of rash becomes uncomfortable. They can prescribe antibiotics that will clear it rapidly.

What happens if I don’t treat Lyme disease immediately?

If the early symptoms are not caught and treated, more serious complications may develop weeks or even months later, including:

  • Facial palsy

  • Tingling sensation or numbing in your limbs or torso

  • Severe joint pain

How do I avoid myself and my dog getting ticks?

Prevention is best!

Keep your skin covered as far as possible when out walking in long grass or woodlands by wearing trousers rather than shorts and long sleeved t-shirts. Shoes are better than sandals and if you’re really worried you could tuck your shirt into your trousers and your trousers into your socks!

Try spraying an insect repellent over your clothing and your skin. This will help deter the tick from biting.

Avoid letting your dog run through areas that are overgrown or have particularly long grass. Veterinary tick repellents are available as sprays and as collars.

 

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