All posts by AHON

Ticks – Lyme disease and removal techniques

Removing ticks as soon as you spot them is paramount. These may look quite harmless, but left undetected they can cause all manner of problems. Ticks will attach themselves to humans and animals, so it is important to keep an eye on your pets just as much as yourself.

Ticks can carry Lyme disease. This is a debilitating illness which manifests itself with flu like symptoms. Fever, lethargy, aching joints and general malady are all symptoms. You may also find a ‘target’ mark. This looks like a bullseye, where there is a central red spot up to 1” in diameter which is surrounded by a paler pink coloured area. Left unchecked, this area can spread up to 20” in diameter. If you spot any of these symptoms then you should seek immediate medical advice. You should continue to check for symptoms for about 4 weeks following removal of a tick. If any of the above symptoms develop, then seek medical advice immediately. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics which in the majority of cases will deal with the problem quite quickly. There is a growing complaint from sufferers that they have become chronically ill following a Lyme disease infection. Medical practitioners are divided on whether or not the condition exists, but sufferers report all too real experiences and you would rather not have to deal with a lifetime of the symptoms detailed above.

tick removal

There are a number of affordable tools available to buy these days which can make the process simple and painless. Or you can simply use pointed tweezers. You need to use specifically pointed end tweezers, as the more common eyebrow type will not suffice.

tweezers

If using the pointed tweezers, then you should ensure that you grasp the mouth below the head, and pull straight up. You may find it a little resistive, but this is normal.

If you have a proprietary removal tool, then the instructions state that you should use a twisting action while pulling. These tools are deigned to be used this way, and you should not twist while using tweezers.

Following removal, be sure to bathe the affected area in antiseptic and keep it clean and covered up.

The point of using these tools is to ensure that the body of the tick is not damaged during removal, as this can have unwanted consequences leading to some of the situations outlined below.

Methods which should NOT be used!

  1. Burning / freezing – this can cause pain to the tick. What this tends to do is make the tick regurgitate, and that means its stomach contents are emptied all over your wound.
  2. Using chemicals – for the same reason as burning, not to be used.
  3. Killing the tick – simply squashing the tick will mean that a) the head is still embedded in your skin, and b) the contents of its stomach will again flood over your wound.

If possible, keep the tick and label it with the date found and location found. Different areas are running studies on tick population and yours may be new information for that study. Check with your local health or agriculture administration to find out if this is available in your area.

Remember that prevention is always better than cure. If you are going to be visiting an area where ticks are prevalent, then you should take appropriate precautions. Wear long trousers if possible and carry a suitable removal tool or tweezers. Try to stick to paths and avoid any dense vegetation. Use an insect repellent.

Check pets immediately on leaving an affected area (ears, eyes, muzzle, tails and toes) and continue to monitor them as it may be some time before they start to show signs of infection. Use insect repellent collars if possible.

Ultra HD – Is 8K going to kill your HDTV off?

It is no secret that TV manufacturers are constantly striving to bring us the next big thing. In a relatively short space of time, we’ve gone from 24-26” CRT with a 4:3 aspect ratio being the norm, to 40” LCD screens with 16:9 aspect ratios being the norm. Of course, this shift has also seen the resolution of our TV pictures increase from 480p to 1080p. Anything less than Full HD these days is seen as outdated tech!
But in the same manner that HD drove the sales of flat screen televisions, those same 1080p flatscreens are now on the way out themselves. The introduction of 8K screens is upon us. We haven’t really had time to get used to the fact that you can buy a 4K display (which has extremely limited content, although Amazon have just announced a new set top box which has 4K capabilities), and this new addition to the family might well kill off that technology before it gets a chance to shine.
Of course, these 8K displays are not available in the consumer market just yet. Although this October (2015), Sharp have introduced the first retail model. It’s a whopping 85” beast, and the price tag is a similarly hefty £86,000. It is expected that this will appeal initially only to commercial markets or the super rich who like to count themselves as early adopters.
So is it time to throw out my 1080p dinosaur then?

Well no. The problem with new tech is that it just isn’t sustainable for providers to create content for it until there is a critical mass of users with the tech to make it cost effective to do so. Advertisers won’t pay extra for a service that only a handful of users can access, and nor will the TV channels. Although the picture quality is allegedly so good that if you are at the screen you still can’t see individual pixels, and has been described as providing a ‘near 3D’ effect (remember when we all rushed out to buy 3D televisions? That went well.) the fact is that most people will see no discernable difference on picture quality over what they currently have in their front room.
The reason the explosion in ownership of 1080p flatscreens took place was a cumulative effect. Blu-Ray was all the rage several years ago, heralded as the only format we would ever need in the future. As it was a relatively inexpensive piece of tech, a significant proportion of people could afford access to it. A fast rising world economy (it WAS a bubble though!) meant there was more disposable income, so the new HD tech sold itself. This in turn meant that content providers like Sky and the BBC had a sound platform to create content and could charge advertisers (and of course the consumers) more for the privilege.
The fact that the UK is now only coming out of a prolonged recession, and the fact that most people will look at how little the added value 8K would bring to their home might, I suspect, mean that the Ultra HD bandwagon will be rolling along for quite a while before it gains any real market traction. The first ‘proper’ consumer units are due to hit the shops next year. Expect prices to be around the £1500-£2000 mark for the first to hit the shelves, with significant reductions over the course of the following two years. By 2018 I’d expect to be paying around £600 for a reasonably sized model with a decent spec. Better start saving now!