Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Clinical Review

Tick bite prevention and tick removal

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 09 December 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f7123

Rapid Response:

Re: Tick bite prevention and tick removal

Might I suggest that one of the highest "at risk" groups is represented by those who, like the farming community, have "grown up with" ticks. During their daily activities in the summer months they will have become accustomed to checking their bodies for ticks every evening. Ticks, for them, will have been little more than a nuisance; most ticks, at that stage, can be - and are - literally brushed away.

Today's situation is different. From the figures for the incidence of Lyme borreliosis in the UK quoted in the article (268 cases in 2005, 959 cases in 2011), the disease is increasing at an annual rate of 24%. In this country the deer population is also enjoying an explosive increase in numbers. Deer are now being encountered in areas where they have been absent perhaps for centuries. The new residents may or may not - so far - be carrying ticks that are vectors for Lyme disease. Suddenly, though, what has locally long been seen as no more than an inconvenience has become potentially a very serious threat.

Your article is very timely. As suggested therein, it would now seem essential to communicate its message (without causing a panic) as widely as possible and in particular to those at highest risk (farmers, ramblers, shooters, anglers and so on). To fail quickly to remove a tick from the skin has suddenly become akin to playing Russian roulette.

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 December 2013
Charles A. Savage
Harebarrow, Chelford Road, Prestbury, Cheshire SK10 4PT