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Ticks back in the lymelight

Tick numbers are up, driven by the ever-increasing UK deer population

Twenty-six-year-old American supermodel Bella Hadid has thrown the bacterial tick-borne disease into focus after announcing being symptom-free from Lyme disease after suffering for 10 years. Ticks carrying Lyme disease are present in every part of the UK but are more prevalent in rural areas, and cases continue to rise.

A study into the disease by the British Medical Journal of Global Health has found that there were 1,156 laboratory confirmed cases in the UK in 2021, and that figure is set to rise each year. It said that more than 14% of the world’s population may have had Lyme disease.

Stalker and ST contributor Al Gabriel explains: “The increase in tick numbers is driving the incidents of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. It is widely accepted that warmer temperatures and the ever-increasing deer population are major drivers.”

Longer summers and warmer winters give ticks a greater chance of surviving though the winter and extends their season of activity. The increasing temperatures due to climate change also speed up their life cycle, potentially shortening it from a three-year cycle to a two- year one. This has the effect of speeding up their reproductive cycle, leading to their wider proliferation.

The castor bean tick is now found at European altitudes more than 1,300ft higher than it was in the 1950s.