North York Moors has ‘high population’ of ticks that spread disease – advice for walkers

The North Yorkshire Moors is world renowned for its beauty.

And this summer – as every year – it will have visitors from far and wide enjoying what it has to offer.

But did you know that, as well as other national parks and woodland across the country, it’s listed as a hotspot for the ticks that spread the potentially life threatening Lyme disease?

It’s thought only a small proportion of ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, so being bitten doesn’t mean you’ll definitely be infected.

However NHS Choices lists the North Yorkshire Moors area as having a particularly high population of ticks.

The Gazette contacted Publish Health England to clarify the situation.

A spokeswoman said: “Evidence shows that, like elsewhere in England, ticks do occur in the North York Moors and can be quite common, hence its listing as a known site for ticks.

“There are a variety of moorland and woodland habitats that support both the ticks and their hosts.

“PHE’s Tick Surveillance Scheme has consistently received records of Ixodes ricinus ticks (which are common in the UK and can transmit Lyme Disease to humans) from the area since 2008 with the majority of records from humans received during the months of June, July and August.

“It is important to note that tick presence does not always mean there will be a presence of Lyme disease causing bacteria (Borrelia), however, PHE encourage tick checking/prompt removal whenever anyone has been potentially exposed.”

The Deer Tick (Ixodes dammini) is the vector of Lyme Disease (Image: Dr. David M. Phillips)
Here is what NHS Choices says:

What is Lyme disease?

“Lyme disease, or Lyme borreliosis, is a bacterial infection spread to humans by infected ticks.

Ticks are tiny spider-like creatures found in woodland and heath areas.

It’s estimated there are 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of Lyme disease in England and Wales each year. About 15% of cases occur while people are abroad.

Lyme disease can often be treated effectively if it’s detected early on. But if it’s not treated or treatment is delayed, there’s a risk you could develop severe and long-lasting symptoms.”

What are the symptoms?

“Many people with early-stage Lyme disease develop a distinctive circular rash at the site of the tick bite, usually around three to 30 days after being bitten.

The rash is often described as looking like a bull’s-eye on a dart board.

The affected area of skin will be red and the edges may feel slightly raised.

Typically it’s around 15cm (6 inches) across, but it can be much larger or smaller than this. Some people may develop several rashes in different parts of their body.

However, around one in three people with Lyme disease won’t develop this rash.

Some people with Lyme disease also experience flu-like symptoms in the early stages, such as tiredness (fatigue), muscle pain, joint pain, headaches, a high temperature (fever), chills and neck stiffness.”

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The North Yorkshire Moors is world renowned for its beauty.

And this summer – as every year – it will have visitors from far and wide enjoying what it has to offer.
But did you know that, as well as other national parks and woodland across the country, it’s listed as a hotspot for the ticks that spread the potentially life threatening Lyme disease?

It’s thought only a small proportion of ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, so being bitten doesn’t mean you’ll definitely be infected.

However NHS Choices lists the North Yorkshire Moors area as having a particularly high population of ticks.

The Gazette contacted Publish Health England to clarify the situation.
A nymph sheep tick (Ixodes ricinus) swollen with blood after feeding on through skin of person for 36 hours
A spokeswoman said: “Evidence shows that, like elsewhere in England, ticks do occur in the North York Moors and can be quite common, hence its listing as a known site for ticks.
“There are a variety of moorland and woodland habitats that support both the ticks and their hosts.

“PHE’s Tick Surveillance Scheme has consistently received records of Ixodes ricinus ticks (which are common in the UK and can transmit Lyme Disease to humans) from the area since 2008 with the majority of records from humans received during the months of June, July and August.

“It is important to note that tick presence does not always mean there will be a presence of Lyme disease causing bacteria (Borrelia), however, PHE encourage tick checking/prompt removal whenever anyone has been potentially exposed.”

Here is what NHS Choices says:

What is Lyme disease?

“Lyme disease, or Lyme borreliosis, is a bacterial infection spread to humans by infected ticks.

Ticks are tiny spider-like creatures found in woodland and heath areas.

It’s estimated there are 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of Lyme disease in England and Wales each year. About 15% of cases occur while people are abroad.

Lyme disease can often be treated effectively if it’s detected early on. But if it’s not treated or treatment is delayed, there’s a risk you could develop severe and long-lasting symptoms.”

What are the symptoms?

“Many people with early-stage Lyme disease develop a distinctive circular rash at the site of the tick bite, usually around three to 30 days after being bitten.

The rash is often described as looking like a bull’s-eye on a dart board.

The affected area of skin will be red and the edges may feel slightly raised.

Typically it’s around 15cm (6 inches) across, but it can be much larger or smaller than this. Some people may develop several rashes in different parts of their body.

However, around one in three people with Lyme disease won’t develop this rash.

Some people with Lyme disease also experience flu-like symptoms in the early stages, such as tiredness (fatigue), muscle pain, joint pain, headaches, a high temperature (fever), chills and neck stiffness.”

Later symptoms

“More serious symptoms may develop several weeks, months or even years later if Lyme disease is left untreated or is not treated early on.

These can include:

• Pain and swelling in the joints (inflammatory arthritis)

• Problems affecting the nervous system – such as numbness and pain in your limbs

• Paralysis of your facial muscles

• Memory problems and difficulty concentrating

• Heart problems – such as inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) or sac surrounding the heart (pericarditis)

• Heart block and heart failure inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) – which can cause a severe headache, a stiff neck and increased sensitivity to light.”

Treatment

“If you develop symptoms of Lyme disease, you will normally be given a course of antibiotic tablets, capsules or liquid.

Most people will require a two-to-four-week course, depending on the stage of the condition.

If you are prescribed antibiotics, it’s important you finish the course even if you are feeling better, because this will help ensure all the bacteria are killed.

If your symptoms are particularly severe, you may be referred to a specialist to have antibiotic injections (intravenous antibiotics).”

Here is what PHE recommend to avoid contracting Lyme disease

• Walk on clearly defined paths, using insect repellent and performing regular tick checks.

• Ticks prefer skin folds like the back of the knee, the waist and the armpit. Young children are often bitten on the head so check the neck, behind the ears and the hairline.

• Some tick bites can result in infection so it is important to remove ticks as soon as possible. Ticks can be removed safely with fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool.

• Walk on clearly defined paths, using insect repellent and performing regular tick checks.

• Ticks prefer skin folds like the back of the knee, the waist and the armpit. Young children are often bitten on the head so check the neck, behind the ears and the hairline.

• Some tick bites can result in infection so it is important to remove ticks as soon as possible. Ticks can be removed safely with fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool.

• If you have been bitten or recently spent time outdoors and start to feel unwell, contact your GP.

Source: http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/north-york-moors-high-population-13454168

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