By Gill Stewart at
Its tick awareness month so we teamed up with Botanic Protect and Lyme Disease UK to provide a FREE webinar to help YOU be tick aware.
Here’s a message from Suzanne, the founder of Botanic Protect, the first repellent brand in the UK dedicated to tick prevention.
Hello! I started Botanic Protect in 2019 to help outdoor loving people (like WALX members!) reduce their risk of picking up tick bites, which can transmit Lyme disease.
Lyme disease cases are on the rise in the UK with a ‘tick explosion’ predicted over the next few years. Tick activity was especially high last summer with Public Health England (now known by the catchy name of UK Health Security Agency and Office for Health Improvement and Disparities!) issuing warnings urging people to be ‘tick aware’ while spending time outdoors and so I wanted to help raise awareness about this important issue amongst WALX members.
I know that WALX instructors go through vigorous training, including about Lyme disease and tick prevention and so they will be able to help you with any queries you might have.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection which can be spread to people through the bite of an infected tick. It is a very serious condition which affects the nervous system and, if it is not diagnosed and treated quickly, the consequences can be life changing.
As the mother of a young tree surgeon described in the national press, “until you’ve seen what Lyme disease can do, you can’t appreciate how bad it can be”.
Lyme disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose; it’s associated with a red ‘bulls-eye’ rash which can develop up to 3 months after being bitten by an infected tick but it’s important to know that not everyone gets a rash. According to recent research, about 1/3rd of people diagnosed with Lyme disease did not have the tell-tale rash.
What are ticks?
Ticks are small, spider like creatures which feed on the blood of animals and people. Ticks climb to the tips of vegetation and wait for potential hosts (i.e. us!) to brush past and feed on. During this feeding process, infected ticks can transmit Lyme disease and other nasty tick-borne diseases.
Evidence suggests that the chances of Lyme disease being transmitted increases the longer a tick is feeding which means prompt and correct removal of ticks is essential.
Where do ticks like to hang out?
Infected ticks thrive anywhere where there is:
- dense ground vegetation and moisture, like woodlands, forests, heaths and moorland
- a strong wildlife population, like deer, wild birds, small mammals
- sand dunes
Although ticks traditionally prefer wooded areas, they are hardy creatures and are adapting to survive in all types of habitats. Recent research from the Universities of Glasgow and Liverpool found that ticks are equally happy in open, treeless habitats, like back gardens and parks, as they are in wooded areas. In the high profile case of Matt Dawson; the TV presenter and former England rugby player, contracted Lyme disease after a visit to Richmond Park in London and had to undergo several heart operations.
Ticks are most active between March and October although recent warmer winters (thought to be linked to climate change) have seen ticks active all year round.
Top ‘tick tips’!
Public Health England (as was) recommends incorporating simple behavioural changes into your daily routines to help guard against tick bites, including using a repellent and this is particularly relevant to those walking and exploring the Great Outdoors.
There are other simple steps you can take to help avoid picking up a tick bite. Here are my top ‘tick tips’:
- Wear trousers, socks, boots and long sleeve tops whenever possible (even on hot days!) to help reduce direct exposure to ticks
- Wear light coloured clothing where possible so that ticks can be spotted quickly and brushed off
- Use a repellent which is effective against ticks on all areas of exposed skin
- Stick to clearly defined paths where possible to avoid brushing against overhanging vegetation where ticks may be hiding
- Use a picnic blanket or mat to sit on when in long grassy areas
- Carry out regular ‘tick checks’ after outdoor activities
- Keep a tick removal tool (like Botanic Protect ‘tick twisters’) in your bag or in your first aid kit
- Remember, ticks can be as small as a poppy seed or pin head and you won’t necessarily feel a tick attached to you
- Ticks love to attach in warm, damp places like armpits and behind the knees, so you need to check thoroughly…
WALX activities are so fun and good for you that we can’t let a few ticks put us off but we can make sure we’re all ‘tick aware’!
HOW TO REMOVE A TICK
Julia Knight from Lyme Disease UK has kindly given us these resources to help you
This animation explains more about Lyme disease – Click HERE
This video show you how to remove a tick if you find one – Click HERE
Why not carry a WALX tick card with you wherever you go – these credit card sized tick removers fit easily into a wallet or waist pack and have notched on that are sized for all types of ticks. They even contain a magnifier to help you make sure that tiny dot is actually a tick! Click HERE to buy a tick card which also contains lot’s of info to help you BE TICK AWARE
Botanic Protect is a naturally derived tick repellent which offers adults and children effective protection against ticks. It’s DEET-free, biodegradable and ideal for walkers and anyone who enjoys time outdoors!
For more information or to buy, visit botanicprotect.co.uk If you are a Member of WALX or NWUK remember to log in to the Members benefit area to find the code to add at the checkout to receive a special discount of 10% off Botanic Protect tick repellent spray.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Instagram and Facebook @botanicprotect
**Use Insect repellents carefully. Always read the label and product information before use**
© Botanic Protect Ltd 2022