Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Update on Ticks - and their removal!

You might recall that last year (4 and 5 May 08) I posted a couple of articles about the risks from “tick” bites (here in the UK we call these delightful little creatures “sheep ticks”).

Since that time I have noticed a number of published “warnings” about the increase in the UK tick population and it is claimed that cases of infection have increased dramatically since 2006. Indeed, I recall a recent report by Nordic Walking UK which mentioned two instructors who had contracted Lyme disease following tick bites (perhaps NWUK could confirm my recollection?).

Tick “hot spots” are said to be the New Forest, the South Downs, Berkshire and Dorset (David watch out!) although ticks can be encountered in almost any geographical location, even London parks!

The increase in numbers in the UK has been attributed to the nature of the past two summers, which have been wet and mild (ticks do not like hot, dry weather). Reports from elsewhere in Europe tell a similar story (I have no details from the US).

Just to remind you…….the main risk to humans from a tick bite is the bacterial infection known as Lyme disease, or Lyme borreliosis. It was so named after a cluster of cases in Old Lyme, Connecticut, in 1974. Thankfully, the disease is rarely fatal although the outcomes can be very serious: possibly affecting the heart, joints and nervous system. In the UK the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health is now calling on the government to make Lyme disease a notifiable disease.

Successful removal of a tick from the skin surface is therefore important. Whilst recently reading a UK outdoor magazine, I noticed a useful looking device which seems to make the task much easier, and effective. It is a pen sized removal tool called a “Rix Tick Lasso” (pictured above) and retails in the UK at around £7.00 (I have not mentioned other currencies as the exchange rate seems to change hourly!). It looks like a useful addition to an instructor’s first aid kit and can be found at

If you are not already doing so, I would recommend that Nordic Walking instructors who take their clients/parties into known “tick territory” should give a warning appropriate to the circumstances. You might also consider if your clients are wearing clothing suitable for the identified risk.

Also note that it might be easier removing ticks from your canine companion using this ingenious looking device.

Malcolm Jarvis, Nordic Walker, Leeds UK

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