Following a couple of fights with some tiny winny nasty dirty little bugs known as ticks, I have been looking for info and here is what I found: According to wikipedia, "tick is the common name for the small arachnids in superfamily Ixodoidea that, along with other mites, constitute the Acarina. Ticks are ectoparasites (external parasites), living by hematophagy on the blood of mammals, birds, and occasionally reptiles and amphibians. Ticks are important vectors of a number of diseases, including Lyme disease. According to Pliny the Elder, ticks are the foulest and nastiest creatures that be."
Sure we all heard about this. But what is less known is:
- Because of climate change ticks have it better these days and there's more of them around, which means Lyme disease is actually more common. According to VHI healthcare, "there does not seem to be any great danger of contracting the disease from Irish deer. However, experts warn that the disease is gradually spreading to the most suitable habitats." So we are not all going to die right now, but we'd better get ready for when it happens.
- Lyme disease is only one of the threats that ticks are carrying and it is part of a broader range of infectious diseases affecting the brain. Another bad guy that is now spreading from the east is the Tick Borne Encephalitis, aka TBE, a virus that attacks your nervous system and can result in serious meningitis, brain inflammation and eventually death. According to a not so recent article this guy kills about 5 people out of a 1000 in Europe, and for those who survive, life is not always back to normal (Tick-Borne Encephalopathies: Epidemiology, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention., Günther & Haglund, 2005) . Not a nice one huh?
- Using greasy substances such as oil or vaseline is not actually helping. A long time ago my granny had taught me that the best way to get rid of a tick was to drown it in oil (olive oil or butter depending on which cuisine approach you are taking). Although this is true, this method is actually augmenting risk of infected materials being injected in to you: in other words, when drowning there's a fair chance that the bug will puke in your veins all the infectious crap it's got in him.
- Ticks prefer French blood. Now this has not been proven, but if this was not true, how come then that I'm always the one who gets the bite when all my irish mates pinky butts remain perfectly untouched?
Anyway there is plenty of information available online and I strongly advise any boulderer who fancies a trip in the Wicklow mountains to read it. A good website to check for general info is the travel health tick alert. And for those who want the ultimate gear (yes, you who bougth a brush kit specially designed for bouldering projects, I am talking to you), you can get yourself an O'Tom hook.
So good luck to everyone, and as Metallica used to say: Kill 'em all!