This sneaky microbe can infect you if you are bitten by a tick, causing a red, ‘bullseye’-shaped rash and flu-like symptoms which can sometimes develop into a long-term condition.
In most people who have been infected, a red, bulls-eye shaped rash develops within 30 days of the tick bite.1
How do people catch the disease?
Being bitten by an infected tick which carries the bacteria which cause Lyme Disease.2 Ticks climb onto your clothes or skin as you walk through dense vegetation and then feed on your blood. They are also frequently found on animals.
Which countries are affected?
Northern hemisphere countries from North America through Europe to Russia and China (see map). The number of Lyme Disease cases in Europe has been steadily increasing.2
What are the symptoms?
Most people who have been infected develop an expanding, red, circular ‘bulls-eye’ rash around the bite. They may also have fatigue, fever, headache, a stiff neck, and joint and muscle pain.2
How serious is the disease?
Lyme disease is effectively treated with antibiotics. If untreated, it may eventually cause arthritis and possibly also problems with the heart and nervous system.2
Can I reduce the chances of catching the disease?
You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:
- Visit your nearest convenient pharmacy or specialist travel health clinic for a risk assessment before your trip
- Avoid places – like long grass – where ticks live3,4
- Use a recommended insect repellent containing either 20% Picaridin (e.g Moskito Guard®), DEET or PMD5
- Wear appropriate clothing (e.g long-sleeved clothes and long trousers)3
- Check every day for ticks that may have attached themselves to your body. Carefully remove any that you find using a tick remover or tweezers. Gently grip the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it away without twisting or crushing. Then wash your skin with water and soap and apply an antiseptic cream.4
1. European Centre for Disease Control. Factsheet about Borreliosis. March 2016. Available online: https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/borreliosis/facts/factsheet (Last accessed September 2017)
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Book 2018. Chapter 3 Infectious Diseases Related to Travel. Lyme Disease. May 2017. Available online: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/lyme-disease (Last accessed September 2017)
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Book 2018. Chapter 2 The Pre-Travel Consultation. Counseling & Advice for Travelers. Protection against Mosquitoes, Ticks, & Other Arthropods. May 2017. Available online: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/the-pre-travel-consultation/protection-against-mosquitoes-ticks-other-arthropods (Last accessed September 2017)
4. NHS Choices. Conditions. Lyme disease. March 2015. Available online: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Lyme-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx (Last accessed September 2017)
5. Public Health England. Mosquito bite avoidance for travellers. August 2017. Available online: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mosquito-bite-avoidance-for-travellers (Last accessed September 2017)
UK/TRA/0817/0171p September 2017