Wanted: men in running shorts; hairy legs preferred.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland put grough on to a survey in which the ticks are more than the usual instance of just filling boxes.
The Heather Trust – that’s a trust interested in heather moorland rather than named after a woman of that name – is conducting research into ticks, the annoying little beasts that attach themselves to various bits of our anatomy and feast on blood.
The trust says there’s anecdotal evidence that their prevalence is increasing and wants to find out it that’s true. So if you’ve suffered an infestation, whether you’ve hairy legs or not, the researchers want to know.
Professor Sarah Randolph of the Oxford Tick Research Group, which is conducting the study, said, “This questionnaire will provide us with invaluable information about the location of sheep ticks across the country. It is believed that their range is increasing and it is hoped that this exercise will prove or disprove this.”
The Game Conservancy Trust is a partner in the scheme. Ticks carry diseases that affect upland birds. In humans, a tick can cause Lyme Disease. Ticks like warm, dark moist areas of the body (they’re not alone there – Ed) such as the crotch and armpits. Once they’ve found a suitable place, out comes its probe and, bingo!, you’ve been got.
The little nasties can carry the Borrelia bacterium which causes the disease. They originally infest deer, but latch on to sheep, dead vegetation and fellwalkers’ and runners’ tender flesh.
Lyme Disease starts as a red spot around the bite area, or sometime elsewhere, which grows bigger, often with a pale centre. Further symptoms are flu-like, with headaches, drowsiness, aching limbs, fever and swollen lymph glands. Those infected are not always aware they’ve had a tick bite. Arthritis and nervous-system problems can follow as can heart arrhythmia and even heart failure in severe cases.
Treatment is by antibiotics. If you’re unlucky enough to have been bitten by a tick, or even know someone who has been, you need to tell the researchers the grid reference of the place it happened.
Check out the trust website which has a downloadable form.
For the best method of removing a tick once it’s on you, click here for instructions.