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Globally ticks are one of the most important disease vectors, second only to mosquitoes, in terms of the number of pathogens vectored. In UK they are important vectors of Lyme borreliosis. After feeding on an infected host, a tick can become infected and consequently transmit this infection to any subsequent hosts that it may feed on.

Image: HPA

In recent years there has been a growing interest in ticks and their associated diseases, both of which appear to being increasingly reported across Europe. In part this has been the result of increased surveillance and improved detection methods, although changes in human lifestyle, animal movements and habitat change, may also have increased exposure to ticks in their natural environment. There is a general consensus that the distribution and abundance of ticks is changing, although the lack of reliable quantitative data on British ticks makes the extent of this hard to determine.

  • There are 20 species of ticks distributed across the United Kingdom.
  • They are often found in woodland, particularly deciduous or mixed woodland, rough upland or moorland pastures, heathland and grasslands, and can be also be present in urban/suburban parks and gardens.
  • After visiting such areas, always check for ticks if you have visited and remove them promptly.
  • The best method of removing ticks is with pointed tweezers (or tick removal tool) firmly grasping the tick close to the skin and pulling directly, ensuring you remove all of  the tick and clean the wound.
  • Although they are present all year around they are most likely to bite from February through to September.
  • There are four stages of the life-cycle: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. Many species of tick remain infected for the duration of their life, maintaining infection from one stage to the next (trans-stadial transmission) with some infected female ticks also transmitting infection to their offspring via their eggs (trans-ovarial transmission).