Two people from the South have been hospitalised after falling seriously ill with rare infections caused by bites from ticks.
According to Public Health England (PHE), a person from Devon has fallen ill with babeosis, whilst a Hampshire resident becomes the first person in the UK to contract tick-borne encephalitis (TBE).
TBE is a viral infection affecting the central nervous system, but two thirds of those with the infection experience no symptoms.
After extensive tests on deer blood in Hampshire, close to where the patient lives, evidence has been found for probable TBE cases. Despite this, risk to the general public remains ‘very low‘.
As a result of the outbreak, PHE advise the following precautions when enjoying the outdoors this summer:
- Keep to footpaths and avoid long grass when out walking
- Wear appropriate clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt and trousers tucked into your socks. This makes it less likely that a tick will bite and attach
- Consider the use of repellents containing DEET
- Make it a habit to carry out a tick check regularly when you’re outdoors and when you get home
- If you have been bitten by a tick, it should be removed as soon as possible using fine tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool which is sold by many outdoor stores, vets and pharmacies. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull upwards slowly and firmly. Once removed, wash your skin with water and soap, and apply an antiseptic cream to the skin around the bite
- Contact your GP promptly if you begin to feel unwell, remembering to tell them you were bitten by a tick or recently spent time outdoors.
Ticks are most active between spring and autumn, so it is sensible to take some precautions to avoid being bitten when enjoying the outdoors. Seek medical advice if you start to feel unwell after a tick bite.
Lymes disease remains the most common disease from ticks in the UK.