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Tick-borne encephalitis found in England

A new health report published by the UK Government says Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) has now been detected in multiple places across England since 2019.

A joint report by the UKHSA and DEFRA said there have been 3 cases of probable or confirmed tick-borne encephalitis acquired in England since 2019, including one linked to the Yorkshire area in 2022.

This case in 2022 is the first confirmed case in England. The virus has also been detected previously in the Hampshire and Dorset, and Norfolk and Suffolk border areas but may also be present elsewhere as the tick species that carries the virus is widespread in the UK.

Investigations into why the virus has been found in ticks more frequently in recent years are under way, but is likely due to a number of factors.

Dr Meera Chand, deputy director at UKHSA, said: “Our surveillance suggests that tick-borne encephalitis virus is very uncommon in the UK and that the risk to the general population is very low.

“Ticks also carry various other infections, including Lyme disease, so take steps to reduce your chances of being bitten when outdoors in areas where ticks thrive, such as moorlands and woodlands, and remember to check for ticks and remove them promptly.”

UKHSA has recommended changes to testing in hospital so that any further cases can be detected promptly.

It will also be enhancing surveillance generally – including asymptomatic surveillance in people in the Yorkshire area.

Information from Encephalitis International

Dr Ava Easton, Chief Executive of Encephalitis International, said: “Most people, who are infected with the Tick-borne encephalitis virus show no symptoms at all. In those that do have symptoms (2-30%), they typically appear about one to two weeks after the tick-bite. From those around one-third will develop neurological symptoms indicating a more serious illness. Some people will recover completely. Others may have long lasting problems such as paralysis, difficulties with walking and coordination, head pain, fatigue, and cognitive problems such as thinking and memory problems.

“TBEV can be prevented by vaccination and by avoiding areas where the disease occurs. If walking in affected wooded or rural areas, it is recommended to wear long trousers/sleeves to cover exposed skin, use an insect repellent that is effective against ticks, and inspect your skin for ticks regularly, removing them as quickly as possible if found.”


Read – What is tick-borne encephalitis?

Professor Tom Solomon, President of Encephalitis International, and colleagues have put together a factsheet about Tick-borne encephalitis.


Watch – An overview of tick-borne encephalitis

An overview of Tick-borne encephalitis by Professor Michael Haditsch, of TravelMedCenter Leonding and the Department of Microbiology at the Labor Hannover MVZ GmbH

 

 

Page Created: 23 November 2023
Last Modified: 12 December 2023
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