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Don't get ticked off with camping...

The credit crunch will create almost half a million extra camping trips this year, according to research by the Tick Alert campaign. It warns that people swapping holiday villas and hotels for accommodation under canvas this summer are not thinking about the risk of infection and disease from biting ticks.

A spokesperson for Tick Alert said Tick Borne Encephalitis (TBE), which kills two in every hundred sufferers, was now endemic in 27 countries across Europe and leads to an average of 10,000 cases per annum needing hospital treatment.

The Tick Alert survey found the most popular European destinations among outdoors activity holidaymakers this year will be France (16%), Germany (12%) and Austria (10%). All three countries have ticks carrying TBE and also Lyme disease.

"Camping, along with other popular outdoor activities that put people closer to nature also increases the threat from tick bites. The outdoors is a great way to holiday and relax, but we are saying to people 'think about tick bite prevention just as you would sun protection'," said the Tick Alert spokesperson.

How to protect yourself

Use an insect repellent that is effective against ticks.

Avoid wearing shorts in rural and wooded areas, tuck trousers into socks, or cover all exposed skin with protective clothing (though not always practical in summer).

Inspect your skin for ticks and remove as soon as possible with fine-tipped tweezers.

Avoid unpasteurised milk which may also be infected with the TBE virus in endemic regions

How to remove a tick

Grasp the tick firmly and as close to your skin as possible. In a steady motion, pull the tick's body away directly outwards without jerking or twisting.

If, in spite of your best efforts, you are still unfortunate enough to experience problems, as a Flexicover Direct , policyholder you will receive protection 24 hours a day, every day of the year, safe in the knowledge that, should an emergency arise, you and your family can return home quickly.

If you are travelling soon, have a great trip!