Summer riding means overgrown trails, fewer layers of clothing and warm, sweaty crevices (oo-er, etc) – all perfect conditions for the great British tick to latch on and get a bellyful. If you’ve managed to escape picking up one of these hitchhikers thus far, then you’ve probably been lucky – and if you haven’t, then you probably already know the little blighters are tricky to remove. The charity Lyme Disease Action has the following public service announcement for you – and if you’ve not had your lunch yet, then we recommend you skip this film of the tick’s feeding mechanism. It’s just an animation but is still, well, ‘quite’ gross…
“When you stop for a break, choose a rock to sit on. If you go for the grass then be prepared to check yourself for ticks afterwards! Ticks are tiny parasitic, blood-sucking arthropods related to spiders, mites and scorpions. They can be found all over the UK and are also present in mainland Europe and N America. They live near the ground wherever there are moist conditions – woodland, long grass, even overgrown suburban gardens. As small as a pinhead, they climb a stalk of vegetation and hold out a hooked leg ready to latch on to a passing human. They will then crawl to some exposed skin, insert barbed mouthparts and start to feed on blood. The adult female is the largest – see this film for how the tick walks on skin using sensors in its front legs to look for a likely blood supply.”
- ticks carry Lyme disease and other diseases
- they will stay attached for up to about 5 days before falling off, replete!
- DO use a tick removal tool to remove a tick
- do NOT smother with oil or alcohol – this increases the risk of infection
- in any area in the UK it is possible that about 1 in 5 ticks carries disease
- Lyme disease symptoms appear on average about 14 days after the bite – so stay alert
- if you have any ‘flu like symptoms, or a red, expanding rash, see your GP
Lyme Disease Action provides accredited information on ticks and Lyme disease. On the LDA website, you can buy tick removers and repellents and freely download leaflets.
Lyme Disease Action has two cyclists raising funds in the 100-mile RideLondon cycle ride, from London, through Surrey and back. You can sponsor the riders here.
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