A doctor from Fort William has called for the mapping of tick-borne diseases in Scotland after encephalitis carried by the parasitic creature was confirmed in the UK.
The spider-like creature can spread both viral and bacterial infections to humans through their bite.
Dr James Douglas who also works in Lyme disease research issued the call to the BBC. He believes ticks in particular areas to be regularly sampled to create a resource similar to how hazards are tracked by the Scottish Avalanche Information Service.
The call comes after tick-borne encephalitis was confirmed in the UK with another probable case in Scotland.
Sampling of ticks has been carried out before, but the GP said the testing was sporadic.
He said: “Longer term we need systematic analysis a bit like the avalanche service in winter time,” he said.
“We need a similar sort of service that’s sampling the ticks all the time in particular areas so we know what germs are in the ticks and how we deal with them.”
Ticks are usually active from early spring to late autumn, but there have been warnings they have become a year-round risk.
Dr Douglas said people should familiarise themselves with how to safely remove ticks. Public Health Scotland is among organisations offering information on dealing with tick removal and health concerns.
The GP said gardeners, dog walkers and forestry workers were among those most likely to encounter ticks, and urged them to regularly check themselves for ticks.