There are over twenty different species of tick found in the UK, some are highly specialised and only live in specific habitats or feed on specific animals. Ticks commonly live in woodland, heath and grassland. Rhipicephalrus sangiuneus is the brown dog tick. The most likely species to bite humans is the sheep/deer tick Ixodes ricinus (i). I. ricinus is the main vector of the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease. Southern England and Scotland are high risk areas in the UK, particularly in spring and autumn.


Lyme disease

If a human is bitten by a tick carrying the bacteria, a red circular reaction

will appear around the bite site and some people will develop flu-like

symptoms. It is often described as a 'bulls eye' shape (ii). There are two

blood tests which are used to diagnose Lyme disease but in early stages

of the disease a negative result is likely. Treatment for Lyme disease is

usually successful after a 3week course of antibiotics. Left untreated, the

disease can develop into conditions such as non-erosive polyarthritis and protein losing nephropathy, viral-like meningitis, facial palsy, arthritis and nerve damage (iii).


Identifying a tick:

  • 8 legs
  • Egg shaped
  • 1mm - 1cm
  • Adults look a little like spiders
  • Larger and darker when recently fed (ticks feed on blood)


Ixodes ricinus                                     Rhipicephalus sanguineus feeding on a dog











References:

i. https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/infection-and-global-health/research/zoonotic-infections/tick-activity-project/uk-ticks/

​ii. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lyme-disease/

​iii. https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/dogs-and-ticks

Images from google

Ticks & tick-borne diseases

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