Tick numbers are on the rise - how dangerous are they?

Credit: ITV News

Experts are warning people to be aware of the dangers posed by ticks, with numbers of the parasite on the rise.

The Big Tick Project says the increase is mainly caused by the warm, wet winters being experienced in the UK.

A survey by The Project found almost half of pet-owners were unaware that humans can contract diseases from ticks.

The Big Tick Project reports that numbers of the parasite are rising. Credit: ITV News

Ticks are small parasites that feed on blood. Not all of them carry diseases, but the effects of a bite from an infected tick can be severe.

Both humans and animals are at risk of contracting conditions such as Lyme disease.

Pet owners are encouraged to check regularly for ticks. Credit: ITV News

Former England rugby international Matt Dawson was bitten by a tick in 2016 and contracted the disease.

Dawson has since undergone two heart surgeries and still takes medication daily after the illness damaged his heart.

He said the effects of a tick-bite can be 'extremely debilitating' yet 'we tend to associate them with animals'.

Matt Dawson was bitten by a tick in 2016 and contracted Lyme disease. Credit: ITV West Country

The Big Tick Project is a collaboration between MSD Animal Health and Bristol University and has conducted the UK's largest veterinary study of ticks and the diseases they carry.

Dawson has backed the campaign to make people more aware of the parasites and their risks.

For more information, visit http://www.bigtickproject.co.uk

If you think you have been bitten by a tick, you can find more information on the NHS website.

You can find more information about the symptoms of Lyme disease here.