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I've been ticked, in Scotland in the middle of winter, got a rash and tested positive for Lyme disease so got antibiotics.
Never been out on hills or in woods etc. in winter without full coverage of legs plus gaiters, so forget that myth about the little perishers not being active in the cold.
I've removed ticks from my person over the last 20+ years, usually just one or two in a year, without consequences.
I'd be interested to know how many other challengers have been infected over the years.
Count me in.
I did not have any reconisable symptoms, discovered by getting blood tests for another condition.
I do not think that there are any precautions that can prevent the little blighters.
I have been 'ticked'many times over the years - not in the winter - and have serious concerns about Lyme disease. In 2018, before the Challenge I did a lot of online reading about this, and decided to use Permethrin spray on my clothes and pack, to see if it made any difference. I sprayed trousers, T-shirts, fleece jacket and socks as well as my pack.(As I put it on the ground frequently and suspect that I mat have picked up passengers....)
I had a tick-free crossing.
What is more, I remained tick free through the summer.
I repeated this last year, with similar results.
Permethrin is nasty stuff - it kills bugs after all. I have taken the conscious decision to use it once a year on my outdoor gear. I spray on a calm day, out of doors, with gloves and a mask, and line dry my gear before bringing it near me.
As with all things it is about assessment of risks and balance.
Like Lindy, I spay my inner, strides, gaiters, etc with Permetherin once a year. This is done outside with the gear hanging on the line on a calm day.
One word of warning though, Permetherin is highly toxic to cats. I would suggest you don't use it if you have a moggy.
Thanks for that information, Lindy and Neil. 2019 was the first crossing I've had without a single tick!
My concern is not so much protecting myself when backpacking or in the hills as where this tick (I didn't see it at all) came from. I worry that it may have come from my local environment, the park, by the river, even my garden, where I would not be protecting myself. I know of one challenger who got ticked in his own garden and there have been cases in England where this has happened. And I don't have a dog, which can be another tick magnet.
I also use permethrin on my gear once a year before the Challenge, have been doing for several years now and have been tick free (as far as I am aware...)
However, two of our children, when they were younger, picked up ticks playing in the garden, and we don't have pets of our own. I also picked one up from the Christmas tree one year! They get everywhere, all year round.
I echo the comments about Permethrin (available on Amazon)
Don’t forget to spray your pack - my wife picked up a tick on her neck - can only have picked it up from putting her pack on the ground when we stopped for a break.
Dastardly little blighters!
I tried Permethrin but had a bad experience.
Spraying my boots and my trousers from the knee down, letting it dry a few days prior to setting off, I thought that I had cracked the problem.
Unfortunately my feet and ankles turned red and extremely itchy.
It may have been just me, but at that time I would have traded my itch for a tick bite.
There was no tick bites on this trip, perhaps it does work.
Challengers may be interested that a Lyme Disease vaccine may be available pretty soon.
My brother-in-law works for a biotech company that are field testing a jab before (hopefully) licencing & release.
Some great advice here, many thanks. I think I will do a test spray on an old pair of trousers, to check if I get an allergic reaction. If I am all clear after a few walks I will do My newer gear prior to walking Down South again.
Before all the new challengers start spraying their kit and worrying unduly, my experience is that susceptibility to ticks varies between individuals.
In 9 challenges I've had just one, but have walked with folk who have had ten or more in a day. Must be a body chemistry thing I guess.
As the Americans would say - YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary).
It is quite worrying to get Lyme disease (Borrelia) by a tick bite in winter. Is that another side of climate change?
Andy is right that ticks have their preferences: I am usually the one that attracts loads of them. From the 1980s I remember removing 10 to 20 ticks from my body after rough walking on Scotlands west coast.
Contrary to all the poison sprayers, my experience is that the best remedy is to accept them as part of nature, to watch them and to remove them, every day again.
I have had days walking in shorts when they were literally crawling all over my legs, but every break I would sit down and remove them all, as you see them climbing up your legs, with the result that at the end of the day I had no bites. (OK, I have the advantage of long legs!)
Compare that with a day walking fully clothed, never seeing any of them, untill you wake up in the morning to find this tick that has been there. For how long?
All I am saying is that it is more likely to get a tick bite when you are not aware of any risk. Poison and clothes may reduce the risk, but also by giving you a feeling of security make you less aware.
Finally, I need to tell that sometimes I get tick bites at home.
When I get home after a weekend backpacking I take a nice shower, inspect myself and remove any ticks. Then I hang my tent and gear to dry out. More than 5 times I have discovered a tick bite on Tuesday or Wednesday morning. The only feasible explanation I can think of is that the tick has travelled with me in the tent, on my rucksack, on my clothes and knows how to find me when I store the dried gear away.
I should have said, I am in no way complacent! Despite using Permethrin on my gear, I still do a thorough check of myself, morning and night. Would be foolish not to.
I read that Tick Bourne Encephalitis has been recorded in UK ticks now too. Only Thetford Forest and Hants/Dorset border so far, but given that it has been moving across Europe, and a couple of years ago was in Eastern France, it's not hanging around. Gov.uk says most people won't get symptoms, though it can cause flu like symptoms, and a few get serious illness. As I understand it they can treat any symptoms but not the disease. There's a preventative jab but you have to pay. Info at
and on NHS website.
I got bitten on last years crossing on my shin. Only noticed when it got itchy and felt a lump when I scratched.
First time I’ve been bitten to my knowledge. When I went to the doctor in June, they spotted another one a my waist. I had only been walking locally and had picked up another! Got some permethrin after that and sprayed my tent, pack and clothesline!
Felt awful until I eventually got treatment. Not something to take lightly.