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Rare tick-borne disease has been discovered in England

Rare tick-borne disease has been discovered in England

Tick-borne encephalitis is rare, but there has been a confirmed case, so you need to be aware of how to avoid bites and what to do if bitten

Health officials have issued a warning after a rare tick-borne disease was discovered in the UK.

Obviously, there’s no need to be unduly worried about this – it is a rare illness – but it can be serious.

Tick-borne encephalitis can cause swelling of the brain in some cases, but officials are keen to point out that the risk is really low, and there’s only been one case in which someone was confirmed to have been infected in England, which was last year.

However, the tick that carries this infection is quite common in the UK, and whilst most people don’t develop any symptoms, it’s worth heeding some advice to avoid tick bites, as well as knowing what to do if you are bitten.

The UK Health Security Agency has also suggested that testing at hospitals be changed as well, so that any cases can be picked up early.

They are already watching more closely in England and also in Scotland, where there is one probable case.

Tick bites can be painful, but the risk of this infection is rare.

The confirmed case was found in Yorkshire, where health officials are testing for the presence of the virus in blood samples of people with no symptoms.

So, if you’ve ever seen a tick, you’ll know that they’re small creatures that look a bit like a spider or another small bug.

They’re found mostly in woodland and moorland and usually feed on deer.

Whilst they do feed, they latch on and can pass viruses and infections onto their hosts, causing disease – most commonly Lyme disease, but more rarely tick-borne encephalitis.

The UK Health Security Agency’s deputy director Dr Meera Chand said that the diseases is ‘very uncommon in the UK’ and risk to the general population is ‘very low’.

However, it’s worth not getting bitten while out walking, and if you are bitten, then you need to remove the tick as quickly as possible.

You can do that – the advice states – by sticking to paths whilst out walking, covering your skin, as well as tucking trousers into socks, but also wearing light coloured clothing so ticks can be seen and removed promptly.

They also recommend using insect repellent, as well as checking regularly for ticks on children and pets.

Adults are most frequently bitten on the legs, whereas children might get it in the neck or on their head.

If you are bitten, it’s important that you get the tick off quickly, using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers or a specific tick removal tool.

You need to grab the tick as close to the skin as you can and pull upwards slowly but with firmness, as some of the mouthparts of the tick can be left in the skin and cause infection.

Then, use antibacterial wash or good old soap and water on the bitten area, as well as keeping an eye on it for a few weeks after the bite to check that nothing changes.

If you are bitten by a tick, remove it as quickly and safely as possible.

If you start getting unwell, experiencing flu-like symptoms, or getting a circular red rash, you need to get in touch with the GP as soon as possible.

Ticks with the TBE virus have been found in Dorset, Hampshire, and Norfolk, although no cases have been confirmed except the one in Yorkshire.

The disease is on the rise which, according to new research, could be caused by climate change affecting migratory birds.

The most severe symptoms to watch for are bad headaches, stiff neck, unexplained seizures, sudden unexplained confusion, and weakness in the arms and legs.

If you feel unwell after getting bitten by a tick, just get in touch with your doctor.

The full NHS advice on tick-borne encephalitis - as well as advice on what to do if bitten - can be found here.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: UK News, Health, Animals