The Angry Corrie 6: Mar-Apr 1992

Dangers in the hills No. 1: The sheep tick

You can never, as they say, be too careful. For all the training courses at Glenmore Lodge, manuals by Moran and Langmuir, and tea in China, there are always going to be problems associated with climbing hills. Some of these are well established and obvious, others less so. As Sileas Niceandrig explains...

The sheep tick is associated with the condition known as "Lyme Disease". This disease can cause meningitis, arthritis, heart and neurological disorders. The sheep tick is to be found in areas of forestry, heathland and heather moors. It is a tiny transparent insect, no larger than a pinhead. But as it fills itself with its victim's blood, it swells into the approximate size and shape of a coffee bean (see illustration). The symptoms of Lyme Disease become apparent any time between 3 to 30 days after the bite. They are characterised by a circular red rash radiating out from the site of the bite, and, associated with this, the development of a flu-like illness. Prompt removal of ticks should prevent Lyme Disease bacteria being transmitted. To remove a tick, rotate its body anti-clockwise. Other methods of removal are drowning (using oil or whisky), and heating (using a cigarette end). Both methods should cause the tick to loosen its grip and drop out. If Lyme Disease is detected early enough, treatment by antibiotics often lead to a complete recovery. However, not everyone who is bitten will develop the disease, as only those insects carrying the bacteria "Borrelia Burgdorferi" do the damage. At the end of the day you can never be fully tick-proof. Climbers and hillwalkers should therefore examine their bodies on a daily basis and remove any offending insects!

TAC 6 Index