Concern about rise in UK Lyme disease cases
Some of these problems will slowly get better with treatment, although they can persist if treatment is started late.
How to remove a tick
If you find a tick on your or your child's skin, remove it by gently gripping it as close to the skin as possible, preferably using fine-toothed tweezers. Pull steadily away from the skin without twisting or crushing the tick.
Wash your skin with soap and water. Afterwards, apply an antiseptic cream to the skin around the bite.
Don't use a lit cigarette end, a match head or substances such as alcohol or petroleum jelly to force the tick out.
Some veterinary surgeries and pet shops sell inexpensive tick removal devices, which may be useful if you frequently spend time in areas where there are ticks.
When to see your GP
You should see your GP if you develop any of the symptoms described above after being bitten by a tick, or if you think you may have been bitten. Make sure you let your GP know if you've spent time in woodland or heath areas where ticks are known to live.
Treating Lyme disease
If you develop symptoms of Lyme disease, you will normally be given a course of antibiotic tablets, capsules or liquid. Most people will require a two- to four-week course, depending on the stage of the condition.
If you are prescribed antibiotics, it's important to finish the course, even if you are feeling better, because this will help ensure that all the bacteria are killed.
Preventing Lyme disease
There is currently no vaccine available to prevent Lyme disease. The best way to prevent the condition is to be aware of the risks when you visit areas where ticks are found and to take sensible precautions.
You can reduce the risk of infection by:
- keeping to footpaths and avoiding long grass when out walking
- wearing appropriate clothing in tick-infested areas (a long-sleeved shirt and trousers tucked into your socks)
- wearing light-coloured fabrics that may help you spot a tick on your clothes
- using insect repellent on exposed skin
- inspecting your skin for ticks, particularly at the end of the day, including your head, neck and skin folds (armpits, groin and waistband) - remove any ticks you find promptly
- checking your children's head and neck areas, including their scalp
- making sure ticks are not brought home on your clothes
- checking that pets do not bring ticks into your home in their fur
"Surging numbers of people are being diagnosed with Lyme disease as cases spread from rural areas to the suburbs," the Daily Mail reports. Find out about this tick-borne bacterial infection.
Links to Headlines
Lyme Disease 'Greatest Threat To Public Health'. Sky News, October 11 2015
Lyme disease cases have quadrupled. The Daily Telegraph, October 10 2015
Walkers told to cover up as tick bites lead to dramatic rise in Lyme disease. The Times, October 12 2015
Links to Science
Nelson C, Banks S, Jeffries CL, et al. Tick abundance in South London parks and the potential risk of Lyme borreliosis to the general public. Medical and Veterinary Entomology. Published online September 24 2015
- NHS Choices links
- Lyme disease
- Insect bites and stings
- What should I do if an animal bites me?
- Editor's pick of the blogs
- Evidently Cochrane
- Fact Check Central
- Research the Headlines
- Science-Based Medicine
- Science blog - Cancer Research UK
- Science Media Centre
- Sense about Science
Public Health England. Lyme disease: guidance, data and analysis. August 2015
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