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Tooled up for tick time

20th July 2015

Photograph of Tooled up for tick time

The Highland Council's Environmental Health team is raising awareness of the dangers from ticks, in particular the serious illness known as Lyme disease which can be transmitted to humans through a tick bite.

Ticks are very small spider-like creatures which feed on blood. In the wild they feed on animals like deer, foxes and rabbits and can be picked up by domestic pets such as cats and dogs and will bite humans if transferred onto skin.

Project coordinator Bob Murdoch, who is Environmental Health Officer for Badenoch and Strathspey said: "I know a lot of people in my area who have caught Lyme disease and been quite ill. I feel it vital that we raise awareness of the issues surrounding ticks.

"Increasingly, more people are aware of someone among friends or family who has been bitten or affected by ticks. This is a widespread issue across the country and we should all take simple precautions like avoiding walking though long grass with bare legs or arms in the tick season of May to September. Tuck trousers into socks and inspect yourself when you get home. If you haven't already got a tick tool, this is a great idea and something we should all have handy in the car, wallet or handbag."

Ticks are common in the Highlands and it is thought that 1 in 10 of them carry the bacteria which can cause Lyme disease. Environmental Health has secured funding to produce a handy tick removal tool which can help reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease by allowing ticks to be removed from the body safely in the event of a person getting bitten.

Toni Vastano who runs La Taverna restaurant in Aviemore got bitten by a tick in the woods at Craigellachie. Toni said "I was training for a charity cycle at the time. I was really fit but I was getting exhausted and my joints were hurting."

He got a blood test at the local health centre and was diagnosed with Lyme disease a year after getting bitten. He added: "I needed to stop working for a while. I had to take two rounds of antibiotics and get injections into my muscles. My immune system was so low that I had to go to hospital for even the smallest cuts. It was one of the hardest times of my life."

The Council's project aims to target outdoor type events over the summer including farmer's shows, game fairs and the World Orienteering Championships which will be held in the first week in August in the Glen Affric and Strathfarrar areas. Orienteers are well aware of the risks of ticks but the Council is helping to ensure that everyone, including volunteers, spectators and participants are all ‘tooled up' before they head for the countryside.

For a FREE tick removal tool and information leaflet on Lyme disease please send a stamped addressed envelope to:

Tooled up for tick time,
Environmental Health, Community Services
The Highland Council,
Town House,
High Street,
INVERNESS
IV1 1JJ

The leaflet "A short guide about ticks and Lyme disease" is also available on the council's website at
www.highland.gov.uk/ticks

PHOTO
Castor bean tick, Ixodes ricinus - from Wikipedia
There are several types of tick around the world but most do the same thing in relation to living on blood.

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