Adventurous Richmond residents are being urged to be ‘tick aware’ this summer by the council and Public Health England.
Ticks are small vampiric spider-like creatures found in woodlands and parks with deer, such as Richmond Park.
They are most prevalent in spring and summer, and can transmit infections through their bites – including Lyme disease.
Even though Lyme disease is the most significant tick-borne infection in the UK, many people remain unfamiliar with ticks and how to prevent them.
They are often found in dense vegetation or long grass, but can also be found in woodlands, grasslands, moorland and some urban parks and gardens.
Ticks don’t jump or fly, but to attach to the skin and can suck a person’s blood for several days before they drop off.
Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Public Health, Councillor Lisa Blakemore, said: “Richmond upon Thames is a beautiful borough, with vast parks and open spaces.
“We are trying to encourage residents to continue enjoying outdoor activities with the knowledge and confidence of how to manage ticks should they come into contact with them.
“Tick bites can often go unnoticed, but people really need to be aware of what to do if they are bitten, because spotting and removing the ticks and beginning treatment as soon as possible is key to preventing more serious illnesses.”
Public Health England’s Deputy Director for Health Protection, Dr Deborah Turbitt, said: “As we enter the warmer months and increasingly venture outdoors to London parks and gardens, as well as other rural areas of the country, it is important that people are aware of ticks and what actions to take to avoid the diseases they can carry.
“Tick bites don’t hurt, so they can easily go unnoticed. The best way to stay safe from ticks is to check your whole body after spending time outdoors, paying particular attention to your head, neck and skin folds.”
Most children are bitten by ticks on the head, so it’s important to check behind their ears and around the hairline.
If you are bitten by a tick, it’s recommended that tweezers or a tick tool be used to remove the tick – other methods may lead to infection.
For more information visit ww.gov.uk/government/publications/tick-bite-risks-and-prevention-of-lyme-disease
Picture courtesy of John Tann, with thanks