A reader is concerned about stalking and Lyme disease

Q: I stalk frequently in a wood and heathland area where there is a lot of bracken and when I get home, I often find ticks both on the roe that I shoot and on  myself. I am concerned about the risk of Lyme disease. Is there anything I can do to reduce the risk?

A: The abundance of ticks in the UK is certainly believed to be on the increase, and that may be related to a general rise in ambient temperature. However the incidence of the pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi, which is passed by the sheep/deer tick and which causes Lyme disease, is much more patchy. Borrelia presence is not necessary related to tick abundance, so not every tick carries Lyme disease.

Nevertheless to reduce the risk you should avoid ticks as much as possible. You can obtain clothing that is impregnated with an anti-tick coating, and this may be effective in some situations. Rovince UK offers impregnated clothing that is designed for fieldsports enthusiasts and forestry workers.

The best way to avoid Lyme disease, however, is to check for ticks every time you get home from stalking or after you have been handling or skinning deer. Remove ticks promptly with a tick twister, so that the mouthparts are completely extracted. Provided that a tick is removed within 24 hours of attachment, the risk of contracting Lyme disease is very low indeed.