Lyme Disease is an infection caused by bacteria that enters the body following a bite from an infected tick. Public Health England (PHE) estimates that there are about 2000 to 3000 cases every year in England and Wales. 1 in 4 cases is acquired when people travel outside the United Kingdom (UK). It is more prevalent in central Europe, parts of Asia, the US, and Canada.
In the UK, the infection occurs mostly in the New Forest, Salisbury Plain, Surrey, West Sussex, Exmoor, the South Downs, parts of Wiltshire and Berkshire, the Lake District, the North York Moors, the Thetford Forest (Norfolk), and the Scottish Highlands, but any area harbouring ticks may have the potential for transmission. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), ticks are commonly found in grassy and wooded areas including urban gardens and parks. Tick activity increases in early autumn and continues at low levels throughout the winter.
If you have been bitten by a tick and if the tick is still attached to the skin, remove it as soon as possible using a tick removal device or fine-toothed tweezers. Clean the skin with a skin disinfectant or soap and water after removing the tick and wash your hands. Click here for the Public Health England leaflet on tick bite prevention.
Lyme disease can resolve on its own most of the time, however antibiotic treatment is very effective. The symptoms of Lyme disease if left untreated can occur in different stages. The early stage (from 3 days to 3 months) can have the appearance of a circular rash looking like a bullseye on a dartboard at the bite area. You can feel unwell with a fever and tiredness etc. At a later stage, there can be more severe problems such as nerve problems and joint pains.
So, it is important to see your doctor if you develop a rash after a tick bite. If you are unable to get a suitable appointment with your GP you can click here to register and book a video consultation with a private GP who can arrange early intervention treatment if Lyme disease is suspected.