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What is Lyme Disease - our fact file on what to look for

Lyme Disease Photo: NHS Choices

Bacteria causing a new illness similar to Lyme disease has been found in ticks across the south west of England.

The illness, which has yet to be named, is more resistant to antibiotics.

Like Lyme disease, the new illness causes headache, fatigue and muscle aches, along with a recurrent fever which returns despite initially appearing to have been cured.

Here's our fact file on Lyme Disease, and what you should look out for,

What is Lyme Disease?

  • When a tick bites an animal carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi), the tick can transfer this to a human by biting them.
  • Ticks can be found in any areas with deep or overgrown vegetation, such as woodland or parks.
  • Ticks don't jump or fly, but climb on to your clothes or skin if you brush against something they're on.
  • They then bite into the skin and start to feed on your blood.
  • You're more likely to become infected if the tick remains attached to your skin for more than 24 hours.
  • Ticks are very small and their bites are not painful, so you may not realise you have one attached to your skin.

What are the symptoms?

  • In the early stages, people can develop a distinctive circular rash surrounding the tick bite - it can appear up to 30 days after a bite.
  • The size of the rash can vary, and could get bigger over several days.
  • Some develop flu-like symptoms such as tiredness, muscle pain, high temperatures and neck stiffness.
  • Later symptoms include, swelling in the joints. heart problems, inflammation of the nervous system as well as the brain and spinal cord.

How can it be treated?

  • If you develop symptoms of Lyme disease, you will normally be given a course of antibiotics.
  • If your symptoms are particularly severe, you may be referred to a specialist to have antibiotic injections.
  • You can find out more about this on the NHS website here.