What is Lyme Disease - and are you at risk?

Credit: NHS choices
  • 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 where they have access to animals to feed on, 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.

Generally, you're more likely to become infected if the tick remains attached to your skin for more than 24 hours. But 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 - which can appear up to 30 days after being bitten.

The size of the rash can vary and could get bigger over several days.

Others 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.

It's thought there are 2000 to 3000 new cases of Lyme disease each year Credit: NHS Choices
  • How can it be treated?

If you develop symptoms of Lyme disease, you will normally be given a course of antibiotic tablets, capsules or liquid.

If your symptoms are particularly severe, you may be referred to a specialist to have antibiotic injections (intravenous antibiotics).

You can find out more about this on the NHS website here.

  • What areas are at high risk?

Cases of Lyme disease have been reported throughout the UK, but areas known to have a particularly high population of ticks include: the New Forest and other rural areas of Hampshire, the South Downs, parts of Wiltshire and Berkshire, parts of Surrey and West Sussex.