What’s Lyme illness and why will we must be tick-aware? – UK Well being Safety Company


Deer tick (ixodes ricinus) on a green leaf background

Ticks in England can carry infections, together with Lyme disease and — very hardly ever — tick-borne encephalitis (TBE).

Ticks may be lively all 12 months spherical, however they’re most lively within the months April to July, and generally later within the autumn. Exercise continues over the winter months however at a considerably lowered degree. So, we’re reminding individuals to be ‘tick conscious’ as they benefit from the nice outside at any time of the 12 months.

That can assist you keep secure, we have compiled a information to defending your self from tick-borne infections. On this weblog submit, you will discover ways to keep away from tick bites, learn how to recognise the indicators and signs of Lyme illness and TBE, and when to hunt medical help.

The place are ticks discovered?

Ticks dwell in many alternative outside environments however they’re significantly widespread in grassy and wooded areas. You’re due to this fact extra susceptible to being bitten when you participate in actions equivalent to mountaineering, biking or tenting. You may additionally be uncovered to ticks whereas on a stroll in some city parks and gardens.

The right way to keep away from tick-borne infections

Whereas strolling in inexperienced areas, stick to obviously outlined paths and attempt to keep away from brushing in opposition to vegetation the place ticks could be current. Additionally take into account carrying clothes that covers your pores and skin to make it harder for ticks to entry an acceptable place to chew.

Use insect repellent (for instance DEET) and frequently test clothes or uncovered pores and skin with the intention to spot any crawling ticks and brush them off.

After spending time exterior, it’s essential to test your self, your clothes, your pets and others for ticks. Take away any hooked up tick as quickly as you discover it utilizing a tick-removal software or fine-tipped tweezers. Advantageous-tipped tweezers are completely different from common tweezers that could be used to take away eyebrow hair. They’re very slender and pointed on the tip and make sure that ticks usually are not squashed throughout removing.

Tools for removing ticks alongside one of the insects

What’s Lyme illness?

Lyme disease is an an infection that may be transmitted by ticks discovered within the UK, although it ought to be remembered that not all ticks carry the micro organism which causes Lyme illness and never all bites from an contaminated tick will end in human an infection. The illness may be acquired when somebody is bitten by an contaminated tick, often outside in inexperienced areas the place ticks could be current. Lyme illness mustn’t deter you from having fun with the outside as a result of you possibly can scale back your probability of an infection by following the precautions above.

What are the signs of Lyme illness?

Some of the widespread symptoms is a spreading, ‘bullseye’ rash on the web site of the tick chew which generally develops 3 to 30 days after being bitten. This rash doesn’t happen in all instances. Different signs embrace delicate flu-like signs equivalent to fever, headache and fatigue, a facial droop, nerve pains and numbness or tingling within the fingers or ft.

The place are you able to catch it?

Persons are most certainly to come across ticks when doing actions within the countryside, significantly in woodlands and grasslands the place wild animals (together with deer) and livestock are additionally considerable. Different inexperienced areas equivalent to city parks or gardens may also present alternatives for contact between individuals and ticks.

Whereas ticks are most lively within the spring and summer season months, they are often discovered all 12 months spherical. Nearly all of tick bites is not going to trigger Lyme illness. There are round 1,500 laboratory-confirmed instances of Lyme illness in England and Wales annually, though an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 extra persons are identified annually primarily based on scientific evaluation fairly than laboratory assessments.

Can Lyme illness be handled?

Within the UK, Lyme illness is an unusual an infection and may be efficiently handled with antibiotics as per Nationwide Institute for Well being and Care Excellence (NICE) tips. If untreated, it might trigger a wider vary of signs in some individuals equivalent to a number of rashes on different components of the physique, facial droop, taking pictures nerve ache and, hardly ever, palpitations or joint swelling. Most sufferers handled within the later phases of an infection additionally reply very nicely to antibiotics, though some might have long-term harm to their joints or the nervous system.

Looking for signs of Lyme illness and checking your self for ticks after you go to inexperienced areas the place they could be current is essential. Immediate right tick removing can scale back your probabilities of buying Lyme illness.

Early signs usually develop round 1 to 4 weeks after being bitten, nonetheless, they will seem something between 3 to 30 days after publicity to an contaminated tick. Fast recognition of signs can make sure that you obtain the earliest prognosis and remedy out of your GP.

What to do you probably have signs of Lyme illness

In case you grow to be unwell (for instance with a spreading round rash, flu-like signs, nerve ache or a droop on one or each side of the face) inside a number of weeks of being bitten by a tick, contact your GP or dial NHS 111 promptly. Not everybody will realise that they had been bitten by a tick, so you should still develop Lyme illness signs with out remembering a tick chew. There are nationwide tips for medical doctors, offering recommendation on prognosis and administration of Lyme illness.

How are instances of Lyme illness monitored throughout the nation?

Surveillance instruments for Lyme illness use data from ticks collected in places throughout the nation and laboratory information from affected person samples. Beforehand, nonetheless, because the laboratory information was usually linked to the place somebody lived, there was a spot in understanding about the place an an infection was acquired.

We now collect extra data on individuals who check constructive for not too long ago acquired Lyme illness, together with the place they could have picked up the an infection.

This enhanced surveillance permits us to raised perceive the epidemiology and danger elements for Lyme illness in England, so individuals can take steps to scale back their danger when they’re having fun with the outside.

Are instances of Lyme illness rising?

Research in Europe estimate that 1% to five% of tick bites can result in Lyme illness. On common, roughly 4% of ticks are contaminated in England and Wales, though this vary can fluctuate in several areas and throughout years, and may be on common as excessive as 8-10% in some areas.

Since information assortment started in 2005, there was a gradual rising pattern in instances of Lyme illness, though yearly fluctuations have been noticed, significantly since 2018. You’ll be able to entry common reviews on the UKHSA web site.

The rise in whole instances could also be attributable to a mix of elevated consciousness of Lyme illness in addition to improved surveillance, higher entry to diagnostics, elevated potential for encounters with ticks attributable to adjustments in wildlife populations and habitat modification which will have resulted in adjustments in tick distribution throughout the nation, and human behaviour adjustments.

What’s ‘persistent Lyme illness’?

There is no such thing as a agreed definition of the time period ‘persistent Lyme illness’ amongst medical doctors so it might imply various things to completely different individuals. Some individuals use the time period persistent Lyme illness to explain a spread of non-specific signs together with persistent tiredness and unexplained neurological signs, even when there is no such thing as a proof of previous or present Lyme illness an infection.

The non-specific signs overlap with these of a number of different circumstances together with fibromyalgia and persistent fatigue syndrome, which may be triggered by widespread infections such because the glandular fever virus, and – extra not too long ago – COVID-19.

Though most individuals with Lyme illness get better from the an infection rapidly and utterly, it isn’t uncommon to really feel some lingering fatigue or muscle ache on the time you end your course of antibiotics. These signs usually resolve on their very own over time though very hardly ever can persist for over 6 months and usually are not improved with longer or repeated programs of antibiotics.

Ought to I get examined by the NHS or a privately funded laboratory? Is there a distinction?

You probably have a traditional bullseye rash, then try to be handled for Lyme illness with out the necessity for a check. You probably have a latest tick publicity and signs of Lyme illness (however no bullseye rash), steerage to NHS medical doctors in England is to take a blood pattern and ship it for testing at an NHS or UKHSA laboratory.

The assessments work by in search of antibodies that an individual contaminated with Lyme illness would produce.

The antibodies take a while to succeed in ranges that may be detected, due to this fact, assessments carried out inside the first 4 weeks of an infection could also be adverse and will must be repeated on a recent blood pattern taken 4 to six weeks after the primary check.

We advocate individuals train warning with personal assessments and communicate to their NHS physician for recommendation earlier than spending cash on personal assessments or remedies, as some personal laboratories and clinics supply unreliable assessments and coverings that aren’t supported by the scientific group.

Diagnostic assessments achieved exterior the NHS may additionally produce false positives the place the check exhibits constructive for Lyme illness when the affected person doesn’t even have it. Our recommendation is to hunt assist by the NHS.

What’s tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV)?

TBEV is a viral an infection that spreads by tick bites. Though it’s prevalent in lots of components of the world, together with a number of European nations, in the previous couple of years, ticks carrying TBEV have been present in a number of areas in England. A really small variety of human TBE instances have been identified which can be thought to have been acquired within the UK.

What are its signs?

TBEV causes a spread of displays, from utterly asymptomatic an infection to delicate flu-like sickness, all the way in which to extreme an infection within the central nervous system equivalent to meningitis or encephalitis (swelling of the mind).

Signs of encephalitis and meningitis can embrace a excessive fever with a headache, neck stiffness, confusion, seizures or matches, lowered or lack of consciousness.

Search pressing medical consideration when you or anybody you understand experiences:

  • extreme headache
  • stiff neck
  • ache shiny lights
  • a match (seizure), if not recognized to be epileptic
  • sudden confusion or change in behaviour
  • weak spot or lack of motion in legs and arms
  • facial drooping, change in imaginative and prescient or slurred speech

Extra data may be discovered on the NHS website.

Do not forget that recommendation and remedy is available by the NHS. So, when you assume you’ve gotten been bitten by a tick and have signs, contact your GP apply and settle for the remedy that’s supplied to you.

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