There are 800 species of tick worldwide with 20 here in the UK.
Did you know they are related to the scorpion, mites and spiders? They are most active between April and October. So with reports of increasing numbers of deer ticks and the fact the warm weather on its way - what do we need to look out for to keep ourselves and our furry friends protected from ticks?
The particular tick to recognise is the black legged deer tick; this is potentially dangerous for both humans and animals. Identifiable by its black legs and pale body it is smaller in size than a dog tick.
Experts believe that the number of ticks has increased by 17% so your chance of an encounter with them is good.
Pet owners are advised to be vigilant with their dogs and check them after walks due to a recent increase in babesiosis. The malaria like tick borne disease destroys blood cells causing anaemia due to the red blood cells bursting as the parasite multiplies. The ticks require 24hours of feeding on your pet in order to pass on the disease so checking for them ASAP after a journey out is hugely important.
So we know what they can do to our pets but how about us?
Ticks feed on our blood, without this they die. When they bite you they release anaesthetic in their saliva so you will not be aware you have been their dinner! Most commonly they climb on to you or your clothes should you brush against them whilst out an about - long grass in particular is a common area for them to be lurking! Contrary to popular belief they do not jump or fly!
Ticks can transmit Lyme disease and this can be treated easily if diagnosed early with antibiotics. Complications arise when the bite has gone undetected. Symptoms can take 14 days to appear however an incubation period of up to 3 months is possible.
Neurological problems can develop should it remain untreated however joint paint extreme fatigue ‘flu-like’ symptoms, headache, stiff neck, muscle pain, tender glands are all symptoms following the onset of the disease.
Here are a few tips to protect you and your family.
Keep your garden in good order, you could consider gravel or wood chips instead of grass however if you like your lawn, keep your grass short and remove any fallen leaves.
You can reduce the chance of being bitten by tucking your trousers into your socks tightly and use insect repellent on exposed areas.
Check your skin for ticks at the end of your day to make sure they do not hitch hike home!