Lyme Disease in Risk Assessments

How seriously do you guys take the risk of Lymes Disease from ticks when planning AT events? Is it a relatively high or low risk?

Rather depends on the particular AT event and its location - but it is a risk (albeit probably a low one for actually developing Lyme Disease), particularly in long grassy areas where there is a high concentration of animals, although they can be found all over the place. Worth including as there are sensible precautions you can take, as well as raising awareness to spot the symptoms early.

It’s certainly not something that would make me stop an event.

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For reasons known only to the RAFAC we don’t rank our risks as High, Medium & Low on a risk assessment like everyone else. (Nor do we differentiate between severity & likelihood).

I personally would usually rank it as a Medium and then vary it based upon time of year and location etc

I would also include it due to their being precautions such as briefing personnel and making sure First Aid kits have tick removers.

I’ve heard of an incident on an overseas expedition. A textbook bullseye rash appeared panicking the group who contacted supervisor and did absolutely everything by the book. Client survived and all was good.

However, the interesting thing - for me - was that it wasnt contracted overseas, but in the UK! The client had a tick bite 1 month prior to departure, with the symptoms only manifesting during the exped itself.

So, whilst we can educated groups and individuals about precautions to avoid tick bites, and awareness of spotting ticks and removing (or not!) there is a fair to middling chance that if somebody has already been bitten, they may already be carrying Lyme’s disease (the rash can take up to 3 months to appear - and in some instances, doesn’t occur at all!!).

It’s there as a factor in my RAs and I exercise due diligence when observing groups - training in precautions and spotting signs and symptoms - but it’s also one which could equally be something which could manifest itself on a non-AT event!!

Pedant alert but - it’s Lyme Disease, not Lyme’s - it’s named from the location it was first identified (Old Lyme, CT) rather than the person who discovered it.


Interesting, thanks.

I’ve been an ACF instructor for 10 years and in that time I do not think anyone within my county, staff or cadet, has contracted Lyme disease during an ACF activity. Based on that, I would say it is low risk, but one of those things you add on the end of your risk assessment and brief, just so participants can be on the lookout for it if it does happen. There have been ticks bites, but no actual Lyme disease.

In summary, make sure you have tick removers in your first aid kits, but don’t worry too much about it. Just get on with it. The risk of ticks and Lyme disease should not stop an activity (barring some freak plague of ticks or something).

Agreed; I always carry a tick remover and I always check if high risk (but that’s basically shorts/exposed skin crawling through bushes, so not very likely). My own children on family walks are at higher risk.

I’ve only ever used the tick remover on dogs (twice).

We have put them on all of our Squadron FA kits so that Cadets on DofE have them.