Author Kevin Lerwill
Although Summer is the most popular time for us humans to get out and about exploring our natural world, and we are lucky enough to live in a relatively benign part of the world in terms of natural hazards, there are, even here, a few things to be aware of. . . one of these is Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is named after the towns of Lyme and Old Lyme, in Connecticut, USA, where it was first reported in 1975, however it was only fully realised to be a tick-borne bacteria in 1981.
Today, the Health Protection Agency estimates that there are between two and three thousand cases of Lyme disease reported each year in the UK and this number is steadily climbing. It has been suggested that this increase in reported cases is related to the growing population of wild deer here in the UK, although the deer themselves do not carry the disease, they do however, spread the infected ticks from one area to another and the ticks can act as “vectors” between infected animals, such as birds, rodents and humans.
The symptoms are similar to those of influenza and anyone having flu-like symptoms, head-aches, muscle pain or joint pain, accompanied by a “bulls-eye” rash pattern on their skin after visiting the countryside, is recommended to talk to their doctor as soon as possible afterwards.
Of course, not all ticks will have the bacteria, although they are still an unwelcome presence on the “host” and they should be carefully removed with a special tick removal tool, which can be obtained from most vets or pet shops. Also, by wearing trousers in long grass and woodlands, you will be reducing the risk of picking up any ticks that may be present . . . and don’t forget to check your dogs too!