Brain Illness Carried By Ticks Discovered At Two Locations In England For The First Time
Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed two cases of tick-borne encephalitis virus at two locations in England, one at an area on the border between Hampshire and Dorset, and another in Thetford Forest on the border between Norfolk and Suffolk.
Despite how it sounds, PHE has said that the risk to people is still 'very low'.
They are now in the process of investigation and monitoring the situation to establish how common the infected ticks are.
The population of ticks is on the rise at the minute, which is partly because there has also been an increase in deer population.
While these are the first cases spotted in the UK, the virus is already in parts of Mainland Europe and Asia.
Ticks are often found on deer, but can also live parasitically on other animals and in undergrowth. It is also possible that they could have made the jump across the channel via migratory birds.
A European visitor was also taken ill earlier this year after being bitten by a tick in the New Forest. They have since recovered.
The tiny insects are also known to spread Lyme disease and other illnesses, so it is always best to take precautions in areas where ticks are prevalent.
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Public Health England's Dr Nick Phin said: "These are early research findings and indicate the need for further work. However, the risk to the general public is currently assessed to be very low."
For the most part, those who contract the virus will experience either flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all.
However, the disease can sometimes cause confusion or disorientation, seizures, loss of consciousness, weakness or loss of movement in some parts of the body, changes in personality and behaviour, and difficulty speaking, according to the NHS.
In certain cases, it can be fatal.
Long-lasting and neuro-psychiatric effects are only found in between 10 percent and 20 percent of those who become infected.
If you want to avoid being bitten by a tick, there are precautions that you can take when you're out in the countryside, or areas that are heavily vegetated or populated with deer and animals that carry ticks.
While you're out in such areas, tuck your trousers into your socks, stick to the paths - they live in the undergrowth, remember - and use insect repellent.
If you are bitten, you can buy tick-removal kits from pharmacists, or remove them with fine-tipped tweezers. Obviously, give the bite a good clean as soon as you've removed the tick.
However, if you start to feel ill, or develop a circular red rash, get yourself to the GP as soon as possible
Featured Image Credit: PA