Did you know that this week is Tick Prevention Week?
Nope, nor me. But what a brilliant initiative.
From one who spends humongous amounts of time in the great outdoors, frequently off-piste rummaging through deep undergrowth and dense vegetation, I speak from the heart.
These are not only nasty, disgusting, repulsive little critters guaranteed to send me into a "totally over the top freak out" at the sight of one of their gross, swollen bodies sticking out perpendicular to my skin, but they also carry the really really nasty Lyme's Disease. A horrid disease that can be with you (or your pet) for a lifetime, causing symptoms that range from joint pain and inflammation to irregular heart beats, heart failure, facial paralysis and memory loss.
Tick awareness is therefore critical in (a) preventing the little bleeders in attaching in the first place, and (b) safely removing them when they do get you (or your pet).
Now, this is what I didn't realise before the lovely people behind "Tick Prevention Week" brought it to my attention: Lyme's Disease is caused when an infected tick regurgitates into your blood system. Nice. What you need to do is safely remove the tick (complete with mouth parts that can cause localised infection) without squeezing its belly and/or causing it trauma, both of which will cause it to regurgitate into you. Forget all you have heard about burning it with a cigarette butt, or a lighted match, or smearing it with vaseline to suffocate it. Tempting as they may be, all will cause trauma.
Using pointed tweezers (not the blunt ones for eyebrow plucking, as these will squeeze its torso), get them as close to the mouth parts that are in your skin as possible, and gently tug, removing the mouth parts from their point of attachment. This method will also be as kind and gentle to the poor little tick as possible. Then throw it on the ground and jump up and down on it until it's pulverised.
Actually, don't. It may make you feel better, but it's not recommended. What is recommended is that you put it in a box, labelled it with a date and location, and save it for the medics just in case...
If I've freaked you enough to find out more, there's loads of information here: http://www.bada-uk.org/
and here: http://www.tickbitepreventionweek.org/
For updates and ongoing info, any Twitterati can follow: @tickbiteprevwk