Sheep Ticks – a reminder about Lyme Disease

Great weather and I managed to go along to the Golf Club at Hopeman yesterday with the Seniors. The sun was out and I rarely seen the Moray Firth Looking so good. The Gorse is bright yellow and the smell to me of vanilla of the flowering Gorse was a great sign of Spring. The Course is looking great and the Yellow hammers were out in force I loved to be able to have a wee hit and after 14 days since the operation I was very tired and sore but loved it. The Dolphins are out as well it is like living in a huge theme park without paying for it or the massive amount of people about.

The wonderful Yellow Hammer loves Hopeman Golf Course a great sign of summer.

The wonderful Yellow Hammer loves Hopeman Golf Course a great sign of summer.

My friend  who was out on the hills the other day Anne noticed that sheep ticks are about and found one on her dog. So it is a timely reminder of the dangers not just in the mountains but even in lowland places.

The Sheep tick !

The Sheep tick !

 

It may be worth wearing long, light-coloured trousers tucked into long socks is the primary defence against these ticks, no matter how hot the weather. People should be informed of the risk of wearing shorts in tick-infested country. Ticks will be found mostly where there are roe deer or red deer, which in Scotland is on all rough hill country but particularly woodland, including conifer plantation. Sheep also support deer and their pastures are likely to be infested. Bracken is often thought to be a place where many ticks are found but it is no worse than any rough vegetation where deer or sheep are found. The time of year when most ticks are active is April to June, with a smaller peak in September. Check carefully for ticks on your skin after walking in ticky areas.

A bite from an infected tick will produce a slowly spreading red rash around the tick bite over several weeks. This is not the little itchy plook at the bite site of any tick. If you get this symptom, or if you think you have some of the odd flu-like symptoms, see your doctor. There are effective diagnostic tests and the disease is easily cured with routine antibiotic treatment at its early stages.

 

Dr Alan Walker, Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Parasitology, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Veterinary Field Station, Roslin. October 12.

 

Ticks are small, blood-sucking arthropods related to spiders, mites and scorpions. There are many different species of tick living in Britain, each preferring to feed on the blood of different animal hosts. If given the opportunity, some of them will feed on human blood too. The one most likely to bite humans in Britain is the Sheep tick, Ixodes ricinus. Despite its name, the sheep tick will feed from a wide variety of mammals and birds. Bites from other ticks are possible, including from the Hedgehog tick, Ixodes hexagonus, and the Fox or Badger tick,Ixodes canisuga.

IMG_5538

In the USA the highest risk comes from the Deer tick, Ixodes scapularis.

There are four stages to a tick’s life-cycle: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. Larvae, nymphs and adults all only feed once in each stage. The whole life cycle lasts around 2 years.

Ticks feed on the blood of other animals. If a larval tick picks up an infection from a small animal such as a vole, when it next feeds as a nymph it can pass the infection to the next animal or human it bites.

They cannot jump or fly, but when ready for a meal will climb a nearby piece of vegetation and wait for a passing animal or human to catch their hooked front legs. This behaviour is known as questing. The tick will not necessarily bite immediately, but will often spend some time finding a suitable site on the skin.

Once a tick has started to feed, its body will become filled with blood. Adult females can swell to many times their original size. As their blood sacs fill they generally become lighter in colour and can reach the size of a small pea, generally grey in colour. Larvae, nymphs and adult males do not swell as much as they feed, so the size of the tick is not a reliable guide to the risk of infection. If undisturbed, a tick will feed for around 5 to 7 days before letting go and dropping off.

The bite is usually painless and most people will only know they have been bitten if they happen to see a feeding tick attached to them.

The risk of infection increases the longer the tick is attached, but can happen at any time during feeding. A Public Health England leaflet for GPs points out that disease transmission can be in less than a day. As tick bites are often unnoticed, it may be difficult to determine how long it has been attached. Any tick bite should be considered as posing a risk of infection.

Adults are most often bitten around the legs. Small children are generally bitten above the waist—check their hairline and scalp.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist
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7 Responses to Sheep Ticks – a reminder about Lyme Disease

  1. ptsd17 says:

    Nothing worse than finding a tick attached to you, if you do its imperative that it’s removed correctly. Most good outdoor shops (sounds like the old “Only available in good music shops” advert) will have small easily carried tick removers, with instructions! You can also get tick repellent, and tick repellent socks, and if your exceptionally worried you can get a test kit to test your removed tick for Borrelia bacteria. Good advice can be found on http://stopthetick.co.uk/

  2. My hubby was diagnosed with Lyme Disease last December – you have to watch for them all year round!
    https://chrissiedixie.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/chrissies-public-health-bulletin-lyme-disease/

  3. KragRags says:

    Thanks, a timely reminder 🙂

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