What do I need to know about Lyme Disease / Tick-Borne Encephalitis (TBE)?

You may have heard about ticks and wonder more about what these are and what to look out for. Read below for more info…

Working / walking in woodland or grassland areas may cause you to be bitten by a tick.

Background

Ticks feed on mammals and birds that carry the Lyme disease or TBE bacterium in their blood and then transmit the bacterium to a human when they have what’s known as a blood meal. The tick needs to be attached to a person for about 24 hours before the disease can be transmitted. In the UK the risk of tick bites is highest from April to October, when the ticks are most active, and are often present on vegetation tips waiting for a passing host. Ticks are common in forested areas and heathland, but can also be found in gardens or parks.

Lyme Disease and TBE are NOT spread from person to person. Being bitten does not guarantee you’ll be infected as only a small proportion of ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease and even less carry TBE.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Lyme Disease

Incubation time is 3 to 30 days. First symptom is usually a rash, which spreads from the site of the tick bite. Often referred to as “a bullseye”.

It is not generally painful or itchy. Early treatment with antibiotics is generally effective. Not everyone will get a rash though – around one in three people won’t.

Flu-like symptoms may be experienced and should go within a week. If not seek advice from GP and inform GP you think you may have been bitten by a tick.

Tick-Borne Encephalitis (TBE)

Incubation time is 7 to 14 days after being bitten and it usually develops in 2 phrases – flu-like symptoms which may develop to 2nd phase which can affect the neurological system including the brain.

There are no particular symptoms other than if symptoms move to the 2nd phase of neurological symptoms. There is no specific treatment for TBE. Again seek medical advice and inform your GP if you think you may have been bitten by a tick.

What precautions can I take?

  • Cover arms and legs by wearing long trousers touched into your socks and long sleeved shirt.
  • Keep to footpaths and avoid long grass. Visually inspect clothing and any exposed skin periodically for ticks.
  • Light coloured clothing can help you spot a tick in your clothing.

Immediate action to take if bitten?

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