Travel News

What British tourists need to know about the ‘monster tick’ warning

Simon Calder’s Travel

Tourists are being warned about “monster ticks” that are spreading across Europe.

Hyalomma lusitanicum, the blood-sucking large ticks from Africa and Southeast Asia, are being carried by wild animals, including rabbits, and can cause dangerous diseases.

They are now reported to be rife across Spain, the Balearic Islands, southern Italy and Turkey. A European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control report found that before 2005, the number of Hyalomma ticks was no more than 5% of the total.

Navin Khosla, a pharmacist at NowPatient, said: “As the summer season approaches, thousands of Brits will be jetting off around the world to enjoy a well-earned break and more importantly, a dose of sunshine.

“But despite all of the benefits travelling abroad brings, there are some downsides, especially when it comes to your health.

“When travelling to different countries, we all need to be more aware of insects and diseases that can pose a risk to our health, such as ticks – a small spider-like creature which is often found in grassy and wooded areas.”

According to Carolina Goncalves, superintendent pharmacist at Pharmica, ticks are small, blood-sucking arachnids closely related to spiders, mites and scorpions.

“They are external parasites that feed on the blood of mammals, birds and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. There are several species of ticks, although the ones that most often bite humans are the black-legged tick, the lone star tick, and the American dog tick,” she said.

“Once a tick finds a suitable host, it attaches itself by cutting into the skin with its mouth parts. It then inserts a feeding tube, often with barbs to anchor itself firmly.

“Ticks secrete saliva that contains anaesthetic properties, making their bites painless. They can feed for several days, swelling as they ingest blood, which temporarily increases their size, making them slightly easier to spot.”

What do tick bites look like?

A tick bite will more often than not go unrecognised, as for most people, you won’t feel one.

“With this in mind, it’s important to regularly check your skin and items of clothing for ticks. If you do notice an oval-shaped rash on your skin, this could be a sign of Lyme disease. It’s important to know that the rash can appear up to three months after the bite, though the rash will usually appear within one to four…

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