Information on Lyme Disease
Recently, Lyme disease has been in the headlines following the announcement by former England Rugby player Matt Dawson having contracted the disease and undergoing heart surgery. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, passed onto humans by infected ticks. The ‘peak season’ is April-October, though they are active all year round.
At Kingairloch, we do have ticks. However, you could also come face to face with a tick bite in your own garden. This article is aimed at giving you advice on what to do if you are bitten and crucial signs you must look out for following a bite.
As previously mentioned, not all ticks carry Lyme disease. So don’t panic if a tick bites you, you do not automatically contract Lyme disease. However, you must treat all ticks with caution and take precautions to note be bitten in the first instance. The most important thing is to keep enjoying the great outdoors, just be mindful of this disease.
Tips for not getting bitten
- Cover up when out walking; wear long trousers and long sleeved tops. It is also worth tucking your trousers into your socks. Keep exposed skin to a minimum.
- Wear light-coloured fabrics that may help you spot a tick on your clothes
- Keep to footpaths and avoid long grass when out walking
- Inspect your skin for ticks, particularly at the end of the day – remove any ticks you find promptly
- Check your children’s head and neck areas, including their scalp
- Regularly check that pets do not have ticks. Ticks can move between hosts, so if one is found on a pet, it can latch onto a human. We advice guests to treat their animals with “Spot On” on a regular basis as this prevents ticks from biting them.
What ticks look like
Ticks are small spider-like creatures that live in the countryside. They can be found in woodland, moorland, grassland and parks. Young ticks can be as small as a poppy seed, whilst older ticks look like a tiny spider.
As part of their life cycle, ticks feed on other animals – usually deer and sheep. Occasionally they feed on us too! The image below illustrates the scale of what a tick’s size is in comparison to your fingernail.
Photo courtesy of Health Protection Scotland
How to remove a tick
First, do not panic! Wait until you get home and calmly remove the tick with a tick removal tool. Don’t attempt to remove it with your fingers. Sharp tweezers are ok if you get the base of the tick, but a specialist tick removing tool is best.
Don’t use Vaseline, cigarettes or alcohol. Using fingers or tweezers risk squeezing the tick and actually injecting the Lyme disease bacteria into your blood. A tick removal device is designed to get underneath the tick and lift it off safely.
Should you find a tick when on holiday at Kingairloch, in all of our first aid kits in our cottages you will find a specialist tick-removing tool.
Here is a link to Amazon should you need to purchase a tool when you get home.
If you would like to know more about ticks and Lyme disease, watch this short informative video from Dr James Douglas.