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Tick-borne diseases

What you need to know about tick-borne diseases (TBDs):

  • several diseases can be carried by UK ticks
  • Lyme disease is the most common
  • very few cases of other TBDs have been officially reported in the UK
  • symptoms of these diseases overlap those of Lyme disease
  • most are treated with the same antibiotics as Lyme disease

For a summary of each disease, see our page on tick-borne diseases.

Recently Tick-borne Encephalistis (TBE) and Babesiosis have been reported in the UK, but these are isolated cases and we don’t really know how prevalent these infections are in our ticks.  Researchers from Public Health England’s Tick Surveillance Scheme collect and analyse ticks from locations across the country.

Following a report about the first officially reported case of Babesiosis in England, we have prepared a summary to cover what Babesia is, the symptoms, diagnosis and what we know about UK Babesiosis.

Just remember to check for ticks. They can be tiny and might be behind your knee or at your child’s hairline.

See that little black speck on the wrist? It’s a tick and it needs removing in case it carries disease. Don’t panic – just see our tick removal page.

No tick remover? Visit our shop!

On average only about 1 in 10 of UK ticks carry disease, and where you have just walked it might be zero. But you don’t know, so just remove your tick promptly and be alert for symptoms over the next couple of weeks.

Tick infection rates are higher in most of mainland Europe and in parts of N America, so be aware of this if you are going on holiday.

Tick removal - Get it off!

Rain in some places, so the ticks are leaving cover and looking for a meal!

Run your hands over your skin, and if you feel a little scab that you can rock back and forth, look at it closely. It embeds just its mouthparts in your skin – the barbs hold it securely as it needs to feed for several days.

This is a photo taken with an electron microscope – in reality, to us, the tick looks like the photo below – that tiny thing attached between the two fingers.

 

People have preferences for different tick removers and so we provide 3 options which you can see on our shop page.

The little O’Tom twisters are preferred by many and they are easy to use – slide under the tick’s body and twist to remove. It doesn’t matter which way you twist.

However, very tiny ticks (the larval stage) can sometimes slip out of the groove. The two of us volunteering for LDA who have most ticks each year prefer the tweezers. Note that these are not ordinary tweezers (which might squash the tick), but have very fine curved tips which you place under the tick’s body, hold tight, and just pull straight upwards.

Job done! The sooner the better, before that pesky tick has time to finish creating its feeding pit, cementing itself in & giving you chemicals to make your blood flow easily. When it’s done all that it will start feeding and then your warm blood will wake up any Borrelia bacteria in its gut and prepare them for entering a new host (you!) ready to start an infection of Lyme disease.

Your tick may not be carrying the bacteria – most UK ticks don’t – but why take the chance?

What we do

We are a charity dealing with Lyme disease throughout the UK. We provide accredited information that you can trust; for the public, patients and health professionals.

Find out the facts here on

We raise awareness, provide free leaflets and lobby for improved services. See our latest news items. We usually hold an annual conference. See the LDA conferences page for details of our conferences.