Tick warning issued to those visiting Jersey’s countryside
ISLANDERS are being urged to be aware of the risks posed by ticks while out enjoying the countryside.
The parasites, which are particularly active in the spring and summer, feed on the blood of mammals and birds and can cause Lyme disease.
The infection often begins as a rash around the area of skin where the tick was attached, and can lead to long-term and sometimes severe health conditions.
The risk of developing Lyme disease from a tick bite in Jersey is considered low, with two people being diagnosed with the condition in the Island during the past five years.
However, Islanders are being urged to cover their legs if walking through long grass and to check their skin when they return home.
Scott Meadows, head of biosecurity at the Environment Department, said that Jersey’s last tick survey was carried out in 2015, after an Islander was treated at the Hospital for Lyme disease.
‘The assumption had been that Lyme disease didn’t occur in Jersey, so the survey was partially triggered by an occurrence of the disease in a person who hadn’t left the Island in about three years,’ he said.
‘Despite it not being ideal conditions we found a fairly widespread number of ticks across the Island, with a strong concentration in the south-west corner, including places like the Railway Walk.
‘A small percentage of the ticks we found were carrying the disease-transmitting bacteria.’
Mr Meadows said he did not expect the number of ticks carrying infectious bacteria to have changed drastically since the 2015 survey.
‘We wouldn’t expect it to move up or down very much,’ Mr Meadows explained. ‘In other jurisdictions it’s generally sheep and deer that act as hosts, so I wouldn’t expect it to have changed dramatically either way.
‘People just need to be aware. Ticks have always been in the undergrowth in Jersey – it’s not a new thing. If you are planning on going out and about just be aware, make sure to cover up in the undergrowth and check yourself when you get home.’
Chief veterinary officer Brian Smith said that while the risk was minimal, ticks were a year-round issue that Islanders should be aware of.
He urged Islanders returning to Jersey after a holiday to check their pets to ensure they were not bringing ticks back to the Island.
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