Lincolnshire County Council are offering advice to park-goers in Lincoln after two people were suspected to have contracted Lyme disease from tick bites at Hartsholme Country Park.
In the weeks after their visits, both girls displayed rash-type marks commonly identified as a ‘bullseye’.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by ticks – spider-like creatures about the size of a poppy seed that live in woodland and heath areas as well as some suburban parks.
Nationally, most cases are reported in the summer months when ticks are feeding and people are active outdoors.
The County Council say that there have been no laboratory-confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Lincolnshire in the last two years.
Some cases however are not reported to the council as a proportion of patients are diagnosed on the basis of a history of recent exposure to ticks or a tick bite accompanied by a rash.
Liz Morgan, Assistant Director for Public Health at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “The best way to protect yourself from tick bites is to assume that ticks are present if you’re spending time walking or mountain biking in these sorts of areas.
“The risk of being bitten can be reduced by staying on well-trodden paths, covering bare skin and wearing insect repellent containing DEET; tuck your trousers into socks or boots, wear long sleeves, and check regularly for ticks attached to the skin as they can be easily missed because of their size.
“If you have children, check head and neck areas to make sure there aren’t any hidden ticks there.
“If you do find one, remove it as soon as you can using a pair of tweezers or special tick hooks; grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible then pull gently upwards away from the skin.
“Once removed, apply a bit of antiseptic and keep an eye on the area for a few days.”
“The earliest and most common symptom of Lyme disease is a red rash around the bite which might develop into a ‘bulls-eye’.
“Some people may also develop flu-like symptoms. Most ticks do not carry the Lyme disease bacteria but if a rash or other symptoms develop within a few weeks of a tick bite, check with your GP.
“Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics and early treatment should clear the rash and prevent the development of complications.”