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Ticks appear in the warmer weather PDF Print Email

As the warmer weather encourages people and their pets out into parks and the countryside, Lyme disease charity BADA-UK (Borreliosis and Associated Diseases Awareness-UK) is warning to be aware of tick-borne disease whilst out and about over the months ahead.

Ticks carrying Borreliosis (also known as Lyme disease) have been found in and around the UK, so even a romantic stroll or a kick about in a park or gardens could be a health hazard.

“Many areas with good ground cover and diverse wildlife (such as squirrels, hedgehogs and deer) can pose a potential risk” says Wendy Fox, Chair of BADA-UK, and a Lyme disease sufferer.

Tick Prevention Week, organised by BADA-UK, runs from April 12 – April 18th and aims to provide information to help prevent ticks from biting people and pets. It also gives advice on what to do if ticks do attach. This year's theme of 'DO ONE THING to raise awareness' provides lots of ideas and local pharmacies, schools, activity clubs etc. are encouraged to do their bit to raise awareness. Leaflets, posters and much more can be found at www.tickpreventionweek.org.Lyme disease is transmitted via the bite of an infected tick and can lead to serious complications including damage to the nervous system, joints, heart and other tissues.

Figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) show a year-on-year increase in cases of Lyme disease, with a marked increase over the past six years from 292 in 2003 to 813 in 2008 (the latest figures). However the HPA estimate up to 3,000 cases every year.

It is not just the UK which is seeing an increase in confirmed cases of tick-borne disease, cases of Tick Borne Encephalitis (TBE) in some European countries popular with outdoor enthusiasts are back to levels seen 20 years ago.

Scientists at the ISW, a group of experts in Austria investigating the disease, say TBE is again on the increase and that initial information from 11 of the 27 countries where TBE is endemic show a rise in cases.

In four countries - Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic and Slovenia – TBE last year almost reached the peak recorded in 1991.

More information about Lyme disease and BADA-UK can be found at http://www.bada-uk.org
More information about Tick Borne Encephalitis and risk areas can be found at http://www.tickalert.org

•A number of measures can be taken to reduce the risk of infection: these include using an insect repellent, wearing trousers and long-sleeved clothing to cover all areas of exposed skin, regularly inspecting for ticks and carefully removing any found.
•TBE-endemic countries are: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine.
•Lyme disease areas of the UK highlighted by the Health Protection Agency are: Exmoor, the New Forest, the South Downs, parts of Wiltshire and Berkshire, Thetford Forest, the Lake District, the Yorkshire Moors and the Scottish Highlands.