Ticks lurk by the side of trails, waiting to pounce into armpits, groin and elbows and gorge themselves on your blood.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Swedish researchers have seen a direct link between recent milder weather and a sharp rise in cases of tick-borne encephalitis. The warmer weather encourages greater breeding by the little monsters, which carry a virus which can cause Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), which in very rare extreme cases can swell the brain enough to be fatal. They also encourage breeding of mosquito’s which can also (very very occasionally) cause encephalitis through an infection known as the West Nile Virus.
To minimise risks avoid damp, humid heavily overgrown areas (long grass, bracken, other undergrowth) where possible and always check yourself after riding through such patches (armpits, groin and elbows are favourite feeding grounds). If you do find a tick, don’t try and pull it out by hand as you’ll leave the mouthparts behind, instead douse it with deodorant, meths, stove fuel, surgical spirit, vinegar or anything else that’s likely to make it’s eyes water, or a gel that will cover it completely and asphyxiate it. Hopefully it’ll fall out and die, but if not pull the skin round it tight then pull the mouthparts (and the rest) out with tweezers. Vets and pet shops sell special “tick pincers” which are superb for extracting the little swines.”
Bet there’s going to be some itching and scratching going on up at the Kielder Polaris this weekend after reading that ;-).