Ticks all the right boxes

7th April 2023

(Above) Tick-borne diseases & the SAIS. Interesting potential development suggested by a local medic, as outlined on the BBC News website today.

More details here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-65203001

A very good idea given the recent arrival of TBE (tick-borne encephalitis) in England and the pre-existing problem of Lyme Disease. Raises all sorts of interesting issues around sampling and mapping which might be difficult but shouldn’t be insurmountable.

(Above) ‘Meggie gets a photo credit in the piece. If only snow cover was a tenth as good as that today. The picture features, front and centre, SAIS Creag Meagaidh’s very own Seamus Two Yachts O’Avalanche, skinning purposefully towards the business end of Coire Ardair.


(Above) Creag Meagaidh summit plateau as viewed from Geal Charn 1049m over in the ‘Ardverikie Forest’. Creag Meagaidh summit is the highest point on the skyline; the cairn is just visible if you zoom in. Nothing much below 850m apart from in some favoured gullies. Higher altitudes offer some large-ish patches, and N to E aspects have old snow patches on steep scarp and gully tops.


(Above) Beinn a Chaorainn and Coire na h-Uamha from Geal Charn 1049m. Bare-looking East Ridge is in the centre of the photo.


(Above) The Grey Coires left and back bowls of Aonach Mor (Nevis Range) over on SAIS Lochaber’s patch.


(Above) Geal Charn 1132m and Aonach Beag 1116m

Comments on this post

  • Matt Dalby
    7th April 2023 11:53 pm

    If ticks are removed properly e.g. with a tick twister instead of scratching them or any other bad things that people sometimes do presumably this reduces the chances of getting encephalitis just as it reduces the chances of getting lyme disease. I don’t see the value in mapping the prevalence of any particular tick borne disease, people should just be given good advice on what to do if they discover a tick regardless of which part of the country they’re in.

    • meagaidhadmin
      8th April 2023 10:31 am

      Always a good idea to give people advice about removing ticks properly and promptly, Matt. No argument there.

      Using the avalanche hazard mapping analogy, surely it’s not a bad idea to give people an indication of the prevalence of the tick hazard in particular parts of Scotland/the Highlands so that can make (or adjust) decisions about their outdoor activities accordingly? The SAIS does of course map avalanche hazard (albeit using a basic graphic), when as an alternative we could just give basic avalanche avoidance advice but would be very difficult to justify. In general, giving people more information about potentially life-threatening issues is usually better than a more laissez-faire approach?

      Also, gathering information – sampling, if you like – and mapping it allows scientists, medics (and dirtbag avalanche forecasters!) to develop a much better understanding of the hazard they’re wrestling with. I’m normally a bit of a ‘less is more’ person but in this instance, I’m definitely on the side of ‘more is more’!

      A two-pronged approach would probably serve the public better. A combo of hazard mapping + how to deal with the little bar stewards if they end up on your skin.

  • Stan Wygladala
    8th April 2023 12:43 am

    Some sensible advice. One can purchase an effective removal tool.
    But……the main problem is realising you have one onboard. No pain, no itching at first. So….symptoms must be understood plus doctors involvement with antibiotics.
    I would hate to be brought down by one of these little buggers after dodging the bullet for so long.
    My dog seems to pick them up very easily as she spends half her life looking for prey in the undergrowth.
    Might buy a Harris Hawk to take out what she flushes. Even here in Bristol she can find deer lying low in woodland in the daytime not 1 mile from my house!

    • meagaidhadmin
      8th April 2023 10:46 am

      I know where you got your inspiration from, Stan.

      (For those who don’t know the reference.)

  • Allan Crawford
    9th April 2023 2:51 pm

    Living in Kyle of Lochalsh I think this would help highlight just how bad a problem ticks are in the Highlands, 6 years ago I removed a tick that had been on me over 24hrs on a Monday and by the Friday struggled to get out of a chair. Local GP at the time refused to treat me as I tested negative (didn’t like giving out antibiotics), nearly six months passed until I had first dose of Antibiotics, by which time I was in a bad way. I’ve never fully recovered though I’ve had two further bites which tested positive and four doses of antibiotics I’m still suffering.

    Obviously removing ticks with a removal tool as soon as possible is good advice and all you can do once bitten, I personally don’t think it prevents disease and the important thing is not to get bitten in the first place which is easier said than done if you spend time outdoors whether its work or play.

    • meagaidhadmin
      9th April 2023 4:50 pm

      I’ve a couple of acquaintances who unknowingly succumbed to Lyme Disease, like you with late diagnoses, too. As you attest, it’s a very serious condition and they have yet to make a full recovery and regain the energy they once had.

      Thanks for sharing, Allan, and very best wishes.

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