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How to avoid Lyme disease-carrying ticks this summer

If your summer plans include any walks in forests or humid green spaces, watch out for tick bites, which infected over 30,000 people in France with Lyme disease last year.

Although relatively rare, Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks, which can easily bite adults and children if they are disturbed in humid forests, woods, or undergrowth.

The illness is often difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms - such as joint or muscle pain, facial paralysis, tiredness and even heart problems - often look similar to other issues, and can appear several months after the tick bite itself.

A course of antibiotics as early as possible can help limit the symptoms, if caught soon enough.

The ticks concerned are small and round, grey-brown in colour with a darker circle near their head, with eight legs near the front of their body.

Advice for those walking in humid forest, wood, humid or undergrowth-heavy areas includes:

  • Wear skin-covering clothes and closed shoes when walking to avoid being bitten
  • Use an anti-mosquito or insect repellent on uncovered skin (but watch out for any that could be dangerous to pregnant women or young children)
  • Check your clothes and body, and those of your children, especially in areas of skin creases or reduced visibility, such as knees, elbows, genital area, and head hair
  • Pharmacies sell an instrument for safely picking ticks off clothes and skin (known in French as a tire-tics), and you should only use that (or tweezers, if you must, but never your bare hands or fingers) to remove any you see
  • Using the tire-tic, pull the insect firmly but gently away from the skin, so as not to break open the insect’s head near to your body
  • If you think you may have been bitten, or do get bitten, consult a doctor
  • Tick bites often leave a distinctive, red circular mark from 3 to 15cm wide (pictured), around the bite anywhere from two day to one month afterwards, but in some cases this does not appear
  • Remember to tell your doctor about your walk in the forest should any symptoms appear in the next few months
  • A doctor will be able to prescribe antibiotics should Lyme disease be suspected
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