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Tick bites and lyme disease


There are a number of different types of ticks in Britain, all of which need occasional blood meals to survive. Each type of tick usually feeds off a particular type of animal. When this 'host' animal is not available, the tick will seek an alternative supply of blood and humans may be bitten.


Once on the skin, the tick injects its saliva which prevents the blood from clotting and makes the bite painless. It buries its head beneath the skin and remains attached for about two days feeding slowly for the first 24-36 hours and then rapidly gorging itself. During this stage, it tick becomes much bigger. After feeding, it will drop off the body.

Lyme disease

In 1986 doctors at Southampton General Hospital discovered that bites from a tiny tick which normally lives on deer can cause illness in humans. Lyme disease can cause flu-like symptoms (tiredness, headaches, pain in joints and muscles). If untreated it can, in severe cases, lead to arthritis and a stiff neck and can be mistaken for meningitis. The risk of getting lyme disease is small, with one in every 5,000 tick bites likely to lead to it.

How to Remove the Tick

If you've been bitten by a tick and it's still attached to your skin, remove it as soon as possible to reduce your risk of picking up illnesses such as Lyme disease External Hyperlink.

To remove a tick:

Don't use a lit cigarette end, a match head or substances such as alcohol or petroleum jelly to force the tick out.

Further information is available on the NHS 'Treating insect bites and stings' page  External Hyperlink

What to do Following a Tick Bite

Most tick bites will require no further action. The first sign to watch out for is a red skin rash which starts at the site of the tick bite and spreads outward in a ring shape. This rash can be up to 50 cm (20 inches) in diameter. It may be followed by:

If you get any of these symptoms, see doctor as lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. The earlier it is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. All doctors in the New Forest area are aware of it and will know what action to take. If you are a visitor to the area and symptoms develop after your return home, show your doctor this information.

Note for doctors:

You can see more information at:

If the number of tick bites continues, email us at or on 01329 236100.

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