What you need to know about tick-borne diseases (TBDs):
- several diseases are carried by UK ticks
- Lyme disease is by far 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 for 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.Â 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 before it transmits disease. Don’t panic – just see our tick removal page.
No tick remover? Visit our shop!
On average only about 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.
Covid-19 v Lyme disease
Youâ€™ve been working from home and if you are lucky enough to have a garden, or neighbouring park or countryside, perhaps spending a lunch break sitting on the grass. You donâ€™t feel at all well. You think of Covid-19, and check the NHS website. Not conclusive. What else might it be?
Self isolate as recommended, but if it doesnâ€™t go away, review your symptoms and also consider whether a tiny tick from the garden could have attached to you and given you Lyme disease. Found a tick? Remove it correctly as soon as you can to minimise disease passing to you.
Quick check of main early symptoms where â€śYesâ€ť means fairly common but not in everyone:
Check yourself for roughly circular red rash – especially on parts of your body you canâ€™t easily see. Take a photo for your GP if you see one.
Lyme disease is a tiny risk compared with Covid-19 – only on average about 10% of UK ticks carry it, and it gives rise to perhaps 10,000 cases per year in the UK, though precise numbers are not known. Unlike Covid-19, Lyme disease is a bacterial infection and when recognised early it is easily treated with antibiotics.
Awareness of ticks is the key and will help you avoid this illness and not add to the NHS burden.
If your GP needs some pointers, suggest the RCGP Toolkit.