Lyme borreliosis

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease, or Lyme borreliosis, is a bacterial infection spread to humans by infected ticks.

Ticks feed on the blood of other animals. If a larval tick picks up an infection from a small animal such as a vole or bird when it next feeds as a nymph it can pass the infection to the next animal or human it bites. This is how the disease is spread.

Watch a short film of how  a tick attaches its self to a human to feed below.

Ticks cannot jump or fly, but when ready for a meal will climb a nearby piece of vegetation and wait for a passing animal or human to catch their hooked front legs. This behaviour is known as questing. The tick will not necessarily bite immediately, but will often spend some time finding a suitable site on the skin, so it is important to brush off pets and clothing before going inside.” The Lyme Disease Action website is an accredited health information provider.

For outdoor practitioners’ such as Forest School Leaders, where their participants are potentially exposed to these ticks a high standard of understanding is required of how to reduce the chances of a tick ”questing”. Ticks can be found anywhere in the UK but NHS Choices webpage highlights the UK Hot Spots and these can be viewed here.

A strong regime of wearing long trousers and tucking these in to socks, long sleeves and ensuring the clothing is light in colour so any ticks attached can be seen clearer are a must. All outdoor clothing should be washed at a high temperature to ensure that any attached ticks are killed off during this wash cycle.

Who’s at risk and where are ticks found?

People who spend time in woodland or heath areas in the UK and parts of Europe or North America are most at risk of developing Lyme disease.

Most tick bites happen in late spring, early summer and autumn because these are the times of year when most people take part in outdoor activities, such as hiking and camping. Read the BBC press report on Mat Dawson’s battle for life after being bitten by a tick that led to heart surgery

Cases of Lyme disease have been reported throughout the UK, but areas known to have a particularly high population of ticks include:

  • Exmoor
  • the New Forest and other rural areas of Hampshire
  • the South Downs
  • parts of Wiltshire and Berkshire

    View the Tick Testing Kit HERE!

  • parts of Surrey and West Sussex
  • Thetford Forest in Norfolk
  • the Lake District
  • the North York Moors
  • the Scottish Highlands

It’s thought only a small proportion of ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, so being bitten doesn’t mean you’ll definitely be infected. However, it’s important to be aware of the risk and seek medical advice if you start to feel unwell.

Prevention is better than cure!

There is currently no vaccine available to prevent Lyme disease. The best way to prevent the condition is to be aware of the risks when you visit areas where ticks are found and to take sensible precautions.

You can reduce the risk of infection by:

  • keeping to footpaths and avoiding long grass when out walking
  • wearing appropriate clothing in tick-infested areas (a long-sleeved shirt and trousers tucked into your socks)
  • wearing light-coloured fabrics that may help you spot a tick on your clothes
  • using insect repellent on exposed skinProtecting children from Lyme Disease
  • inspecting your skin for ticks, particularly at the end of the day, including your head, neck and skin folds (armpits, groin, and waistband) – remove any ticks you find promptly
  • checking your children’s head and neck areas, including their scalp
  • making sure ticks are not brought home on your clothes
  • checking that pets do not bring ticks into your home in their fur

How to remove a tick correctly and how to test the tick for being a Lyme carrier?

View the Tick Out Here

View the Tick Out HERE!

Remote First Aid sell inexpensive tick removal devices, which are useful if you frequently spend time in areas where there are ticks, such as Forest Schools Practitioners & Climbing Instructors working and operating in high risk areas mentioned before. If you find a tick on you or your child’s skin, remove it by following the guidance given that comes with the tick remover supplied. We recommend that the removed tick is tested for Lyme disease using the CarePlus Tick Testing kit we also sell.  Wash your skin with water and soap afterwards, and apply an antiseptic cream to the skin around the bite.

Where can I find out more?

NHS Choices has more information about Lyme disease.

Find your nearest local Healthwatch.

The organisations below can give you more advice and support.


Peter J Cook FRGS London

Peter holds a range of outdoor qualifications in climbing and mountaineering. Peter was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society, London in 2008 for his work in expedition leadership. Peter has organised and run expeditions to many parts of the developing world, with recent climbing and trekking expeditions to, Jordan, Morocco, Greece, Belize and Malaysia.