Tick-borne disease charity BADA-UK (Borreliosis and Associated Diseases Awareness-UK) which is supported by Mosi-guard® Natural, and its Patron, TV bushcraft and survival expert Ray Mears, are warning the public to be especially vigilant whilst outdoors in rural Britain this summer. The charity is highlighting the increased risk to hill walkers from tick bites and tick-borne diseases following the EU ban of the herbicide Asulam. Asulam is used by hill farmers to control the invasive spread of bracken which provides the perfect habitat for ticks.
Patron Ray Mears warns: "The control of bracken is vital to the survival of numerous species of flora and fauna as well as reducing tick populations. The spread of bracken as a result of this ban will lead to increased tick numbers making it all the more important that the public takes precautions against tick bites when out and about in rural areas."
Reports suggest that the tick population and its distribution is increasing, and with it the risk of contracting Lyme disease (borreliosis) and other tick-borne diseases.
Ticks are second only to mosquitoes for carrying disease to humans worldwide. In the UK in 2010 there were 1,361 laboratory-confirmed cases of tick-borne Lyme disease, a 24.4% increase on 2009. The Health Protection Agency estimates that up to 2000 further cases go unrecorded each year.
BADA-UK, a registered charity run by unpaid volunteers who have been affected by Lyme disease and associated infections, believes that public and professional awareness is key to combating the rise in cases of tick-borne disease. The charity advises that the best defense against tick-borne infection is to avoid being bitten in the first place by taking a few simple precautions when out walking:-
- Apply an effective insect repellent before setting out.
- Wear suitable clothing that prevents ticks from crawling under clothes and attaching to the body. This includes using gaiters or tucking long trousers into socks and choosing clothes with elastic or drawstrings at the waist, wrist and ankle. Clothing made from smooth or waxed material is hard for ticks to climb whilst light-coloured fabrics make it easier to spot a tick. Wearing shorts in a tick habitat is just an invitation to be bitten!
- Walk in the centre of paths to avoid over hanging vegetation where ticks may be waiting.
- Perform regular tick checks on your body and carry a tick remover.
- Wendy Fox, Chair of BADA-UK says, "We understand, perhaps better than most the devastating effects that tick-borne diseases can have, therefore we strive to help prevent others from falling victim to them.
People who frequent bracken-rich areas can be recreationally exposed to tick-borne disease, particularly Lyme disease. Increased interest in outdoor pursuits, combined with an increasing tick population is resulting in a year-on-year rise in cases of tick-borne disease."
In 2012, Mosi-guard® Natural is once again supporting BADA-UK and its annual awareness campaign, Tick Bite Prevention Week, in the Charity's essential mission to reverse the growing incidence of tick-borne infections in the UK. You can find out more about the work of BADA-UK at www.bada-uk.org.
- The sale and supply of Asulam is prohibited from the 31st of December 2011 and product stocks must be used by 31 December 2012.
- Non-chemical methods of bracken management have taken a minor role, such as harvesting for use as winter bedding for livestock or for biomass. Research into biological methods of bracken control has made little progress and its employment in Britain is unlikely in the foreseeable future due to the associated legal, environmental and socio-economic problems.
About ticks and related infections
- Ticks are small parasites which feed on the blood of mammals (including humans), reptiles and birds. They belong to the same family as spiders.
- Ticks are able to survive in a wide variety of habitats, from the highlands of Scotland, to urban parks and gardens.
- Ticks normally choose wildlife and livestock to be their hosts. However, people and pets send out the same signals (body heat and chemicals) as the tick's usual hosts.
- In the UK, tick attachment has become a relatively widespread concern. Over the years there has been a steady increase in the distribution and density of ticks, which is caused largely by human impact on the habitat and the wildlife hosts of ticks (Randolph et al.), but also may be due to climatic changes.
- Ticks can carry a number of infections which cause disease in both humans and animals. If left untreated, many of these infections such as Lyme disease can result in severe and debilitating symptoms.
- Lyme disease is endemic throughout the UK and Ireland, although some areas pose a higher risk than others. The Health Protection Agency advises that any area that supports a hard tick population poses a risk.
- Despite being run by a small team of unpaid volunteers, BADA-UK is recognised as the UK's leading independent campaigning charity and experts in the risk and communication of tick-borne disease.
- Its aims are the advancement of education in the subject of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases; the promotion of research into the areas of such diseases, their symptoms, cures and prevention and the dissemination of results of research to the public; the preservation and protection of good health through education, research and other awareness promotion.
- The charity is regularly consulted by public health bodies, outdoor associations, education and youth groups as well as media, and responds to more than 2 million tick-related enquires from the public each year through its website and exhibition road-shows.
- BADA-UK is funded solely by donations, fundraising events, and the Mosi-guard® Natural sponsorship. It does not receive any official funding. All funds are used to produce literature, provide educational exhibits and presentations, and to organise their national awareness week and various other projects.