Public Health England has now confirmed the presence of an infection in the UK that is spread by ticks and is usually found in Europe and Asia.
Ticks carrying this infection have been found in Thetford Forest in East England and in an area on the border between Hampshire and Dorset. These findings are part of research by Public Health England (PHE) and the Emerging and Zoonotic Infections National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit at the University of Liverpool.
Dr Nick Phin, Deputy Director of the National Infections Service at PHE, has said that ‘the risk to the general public is currently assessed to be very low’. However, he also commented that ‘these are early research findings and indicate the need for further work’.
Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) can cause flu-like symptoms and a circular red rash, but, according to the NHS, anyone bitten by a tick is unlikely to develop serious symptoms.
The advice from the NHS, which should be distributed to patients, is to see a doctor if you develop symptoms, especially if you have recently been walking in forests or grassy areas where you may have picked up a tick. Anyone experiencing the following symptoms should be directed to hospital:
- Stiff neck and severe headache
- Light sensitivity
- Weakness or loss of movement