Beware Exmoor tick attack

NHS Devon is reminding people to be aware of biting insects in grassy and woodlands areas as they may get an unwelcome disease. Ticks are found in these type of areas, particularly on Exmoor, and a bite can lead to people catching Lyme Disease, which cau

NHS Devon is reminding people to be aware of biting insects in grassy and woodlands areas as they may get an unwelcome disease.

Ticks are found in these type of areas, particularly on Exmoor, and a bite can lead to people catching Lyme Disease, which causes headaches, muscle pain, high temperature, joint pain and stiffness of the neck.

The most common symptom of Lyme Disease is a red skin rash that looks similar to a bull's eye on a dart board. It usually appears within three to 30 days after the person is bitten by an infected tick.

The tick population is at its highest during late spring and early summer due to their breeding patterns, so it is important to remain vigilant.


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Lyme Disease can be treated with antibiotics and most people will recover within a couple of days.

Steve Brown, NHS Devon's assistant director of public health, said: "It is important to take precautions against insect bites when visiting grassy and wasteland areas such as Exmoor. Ticks are very small and you cannot usually feel them bite, so it can be difficult to realise you have a tick attached to your skin.

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"So, take care this summer and don't let the bugs bite."

Babafemi Oshin from the Health Protection Agency said : "Devon has a number of popular countryside attractions where ticks may be present, so people should take extra care when visiting woodland or moorland areas.

Ticks are about the size of a poppy seed, so it is important to check your skin regularly when out in these areas. If one is found it should be removed promptly and carefully, preferably with tweezers or special tick hooks. Please make sure you don't crush or squeeze the tick as parts can break off and remain in your skin, which could cause infection.

"Most people infected with Lyme Disease subsequently develop a reddish skin rash in a ring shape, which may spread out from the site of a bite.

Other common symptoms include tiredness, headache, joint pains, and flu-like symptoms.

"If you think you have any of the symptoms above and have been bitten by a tick, visit your GP immediately, who will be able to treat the infection with a course of antibiotics."

To help reduce to risk of getting bitten by ticks:

* Be aware of ticks and the areas they normally live in - Exmoor is a local example.

* Wear long sleeve shirts and trousers tucked into your socks in tick infested areas.

* Use insect repellents.

* Inspect your skin for ticks, particularly at the end of the day, including your head, neck, armpits, groin and waistband.

* Make sure that your children's head and neck areas, including scalps, are properly checked.

* Check that ticks are not brought home on your clothes.

* Check that pets do not bring ticks into your home in their fur.

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