A brain disease that is spread by ticks has reached the UK.


A brain disease that is spread by ticks has reached the UK.

Cases of tick-borne encephalitis virus in ticks has been confirmed in two parts of England, Thetford forest and an area on the Hampshire-Dorset border. Public Health England has confirmed the cases.

They are monitoring the situation to check how common the infected ticks may be. People who walk in countryside areas where infected ticks can be found are at risk of being bitten and catching the diseases they carry. In mainland Europe, Scandinavia and Asia, the tick-borne encephalitis virus is already circulating.

It is thought that earlier in the year a visitor to the New Forest became ill after being infected by ticks.

Do you need to worry?

Ticks have become more common across many parts of the UK. Mainly due to increasing numbers of deer. But being bitten by one does not necessarily mean you will get sick. The risk to the general public has currently been assessed as very low.

Most people who catch the virus will have only mild flu-like symptoms or no symptoms. The disease can progress to affect the brain and central nervous system and can be fatal. Ticks can also carry other diseases including Lyme disease that can make people very ill.

Public England is reminding people to be tick aware and to take precautions when visiting or working in areas with long grass-like woodlands, moorlands, and parks.

What should you do?

To minimise the risk of being bitten, cover your skin, tuck your trousers into your socks, use insect repellent and stick to paths.

If you are bitten, remove the tick with fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool found in chemists.

Clean the bite with antiseptic or soap and water.

You need to see your GP if you think you may have been bitten by a tick in the past month and develop flu-like symptoms or a circular red rash.

Ticks cannot jump or fly but live in vegetation and wait for a passing animal or human to climb on to. They feed off the blood of animals and people.

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