Agghhh MEDIC!!!!

Occasionally I get asked questions about mountains, walking in them and hiking and climbing etc. Latest question was a bit like this...

"Ere, you know medical stuff! What's this about ticks and lyme disease, how do ya get it and what do ya do to stop ya'self from gettin' it?
"Well," I said...

Ticks are parasites that are found in vegetation where they wait to attach themselves to an unsuspecting passer-by, sheep, mice, deer or a human. That's bad enough, but probably one in three ticks are thought to carry Lyme Disease which is transmitted by a bite.
Lyme Disease, if left untreated, can have wide-spread effects on the central nervous system and in extreme cases can be fatal. Worryingly, the incidence of the disease in Scotland is increasing - a decade ago there were 10 cases, but in 2006 the number had risen to 177. Climate changes resulting in warmer, wetter weather are encouraging growth in the tick population and therefore to the increase in infection rate. The early symptoms of Lyme Disease are prolonged flu-like symptoms often accompanied by an expanding circular rash.
If you think you have been bitten and infected you should consult your GP mentioning that you have been out in the countryside. This should alert him/her to the possibility of Lyme Disease which can be confirmed with a blood test and treated with antibiotics or other medications.

Clearly it's far better to avoid getting bitten in the first place. You can reduce the risk of bites by:

Covering up by wearing trousers and long-sleeved tops.
Tucking trousers into your socks (or wearing Gaiters).
Wearing light coloured clothing on which you can easily see any ticks.
Avoiding sitting in long grass.
Staying on pathways if possible and avoiding tramping through overgrown areas.

If you do find a tick on you, remove it by gripping it close to your skin with a pair of tweezers and pull it out with a single, smooth action.

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