Researchers want to hear about tick bites to people and pets in the Outer Hebrides
Two public questionnaires have been launched as scientists seek the help of Western Isles residents as part of research into ticks found in Uist and the Lyme-disease causing bacteria they carry.
In a meeting at Balivanich Hall, Benbecula, this week, NHS Western Isles Health Protection and Screening Nurse Specialist Isabell MacInnes gave details about the awareness raising work that she and colleagues have been doing since launching the Western Isles Tick Awareness Programme last year.
The Programme was established to investigate concerns that the incidences of Lyme disease in Uists being far greater than that on neighbouring islands in the Outer Hebrides.
Scientists Caroline Millins and Roman Beik from the University of Glasgow were also at the Benbecula meeting to explain the early stages of the research they are carrying out on ticks found in Uist, and the Lyme-disease causing bacteria they carry.
And the University has launched two public questionnaires in a bid to help further the research.
The surveys focus on assessing the risk of tick bites on people and pets in the Outer Hebrides; and also to assess tick prevention and tick-borne diseases in livestock in the islands.
Paper questionnaire forms are available from Southern Isles Veterinary practice, the Crofting Federation, and SNH, and are also available online at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/tickbite-people-and-pets and https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/livestock-survey
Glasgow University project staff will now be based in Uist for the next few weeks carrying out work across a range of habitats where ticks can occur.
Also speaking at the Benebecula meeting this week, which attracted around 60 people, were Uist based vet Ealasaid Dick who spoke about what veterinary practice is seeing, and Johanne Ferguson from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to provide an update on the Uist Deer Management Plan.
Recommended precautions to prevent tick bites are –
- wearing light coloured clothing- to make it easier to see ticks
- tucking trousers into socks when outside
- keeping exposed skin to a minimum
- brushing clothing before going indoors.
- once home remove clothing on a hard surface
- checking your skin by looking and feeling for ticks