Page last updated at 23:01 GMT, Monday, 1 June 2009 00:01 UK

Campers warned about tick bites

Cases of Lyme disease have increased in Scotland in recent years

Campers planning to holiday under canvas in the Highlands have been warned about the risk of contracting serious illness from tick bites.

The Tick Alert campaign group said there were 285 cases of Lyme disease in Scotland last year, compared with only three recorded cases in 1999.

It also warned people holidaying abroad that Tick Borne Encephalitis (TBE) is now endemic in 27 countries.

Camping and outdoor activities increase the risk of being bitten by ticks.

Two in every 100 TBE sufferers will die from the disease, Tick Alert said, while there are up to 3,000 Lyme disease cases across the UK every year.

The most common symptom of Lyme disease is a slowly expanding rash, which spreads about five to 14 days after the sufferer is bitten by a tick.

Other symptoms can include fever, headache and fatigue.

Most cases can be treated with antibiotics, but if left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

Travel health specialist Barbara Evans from the MASTA Travel Clinic in Aberdeen said: "All the evidence shows that the prevalence of TBE and other tick-borne diseases is on the increase in some countries, so people heading for places where they will be at risk need to be aware of the potential dangers and take adequate precautions."

Information leaflets with a map showing risk areas, general advice, tick bite protection and disease symptoms are available in outdoor retailers and GP surgeries and clinics across the country.

A spokeswoman for Tick Alert said: "The outdoors is a great way to holiday and relax, but we are saying to people to think about tick bite prevention just as you would sun protection."

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