Hampshire County Council has encouraged residents to be ‘tick aware’ this spring as lockdown restrictions mean more people head outdoors.

The council has asked members of the public to take steps to ensure they are safe against the creatures, which can carry diseases such as Lyme’s Disease. This illness can cause symptoms such as tiredness and lethargy which can last for years.

Hampshire County Council’s director of public health, Simon Bryant, said: “We’re all looking forward to getting some quality outdoor time this Easter break, in local beauty spots like the New Forest, but be aware these areas have a high tick population. So, when out walking, remember to keep to footpaths and avoiding long grass, and follow our simple ‘tick tips’ to be tick aware.”

Ticks are small insects which are relatively ubiquitous outdoors, feeding on the blood of animals. They are mostly found between spring and autumn, and are typically found in woodland, grassland, moorland or heathland but are also found in urban parks and gardens.

Like mosquitos, they can transmit diseases as they feed, including serious illnesses such as typhus and haemorrhagic fever. However, most ticks do not carry illnesses, and so being bitten by one is not necessarily a cause for concern.

The county council recommends that walkers should wear long sleeved tops and trousers tucked into socks, as well as using an insect repellent. Following a walk, skin should be checked for ticks, particularly in the area of skin folds such as the armpits and groin.

If you do get bitten by a tick, removing it quickly and correctly can help to reduce any potential risk. The NHS recommends you use fine-tipped tweezers, or specialist tick-removal tools, to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and then slowly pull upwards.

In most cases, people bitten by ticks do not get ill. However, some will develop large circular rashes, which often look like a bullseye on a dartboard, and other symptoms similar to the flu. In this case, anyone bitten should see their GP to be treated with antibiotics, and potentially specialist treatment if long-term symptoms occur.

For more information on treatment for Tick-based diseases, visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lyme-disease/