A CAMPAIGN has been launched to encourage people to be ‘tick aware’ when enjoying the outdoors this summer.

The aim is to raise awareness of tick bites and the symptoms of Lyme disease, which can have lifelong side-effects.

With a new survey suggesting that more than half of local residents don’t know what to do when bitten by a tick, the Scottish Government wants to drive home the importance of acting quickly in such circumstances.

The earliest and most common symptoms of Lyme disease include a red circular rash on the skin. People can also experience cold or flu-like symptoms, such as headaches and joint pain.

Ticks can be found in wooded and grassy areas, so preventative measures when outdoors – such as sticking to pathways instead of going through long grass, using a repellent spray on clothing and not exposing skin – can reduce the risk of being bitten.

Tom Evans, Professor of Molecular Microbiology at the University of Glasgow, said: “Ticks are in peak season in summer and, with people spending more time outdoors, it’s important that they take steps to prevent becoming ill from Lyme disease.

“If you do get bitten, remove the tick as soon as possible to prevent infection. Using fine-tipped tweezers to gently grip the tick as close to the skin as possible, pull it steadily away from the skin without twisting or crushing it.

“You should wash the area with water and soap afterwards and apply an antiseptic cream.

“Lyme disease can be difficult to detect and, while most cases are mild, if not found early, it can have serious and lifelong side effects.”

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf added: “We definitely want people to spend time in the beautiful outdoors but, with tick populations especially high in the summer months, we also want to make sure people do so safely.

“Ticks can be found all over Scotland, so wherever you are spending time outdoors this summer, taking measures to prevent bites and knowing what to do if you are bitten will help avoid infection.”

For more information, visit nhsinform.scot/lyme-disease.