Ticks carrying brain disease virus found in Norfolk
Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) has been detected for the first time in ticks in the UK, including in Thetford Forest and an area on the border of Hampshire and Dorset, Public Health England have confirmed.
Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is an infection spread by tick bites and is endemic in mainland Europe and Scandinavia, as well as Asia.
Most people who catch TBE will not have any symptoms - though it can cause flu-like symptoms, and in a small number of cases can progress to more serious disease involving the central nervous system.
Further work is under way to identify the distribution of TBEV infected tick populations.
The risk from TBEV is currently assessed as very low for the general population.
Thetford Forest is also a hotspot for Lyme disease. It is thought it is the prevalence of infected ticks is due to increasing deer populations.
Lyme disease remains the most common tick-borne infection in the UK, and the risk of acquiring Lyme substantially outweighs that of acquiring TBEV.
Dr Nick Phin of Public Health England said:
“Tick-borne encephalitis virus, which is endemic in many European countries, has been found for the first time in a very small number of ticks in 2 locations in England.”
“Ticks carry a number of infections including Lyme disease, so we are reminding people to be ‘tick aware’ and take tick precautions, particularly when visiting or working in areas with long grass such as woodlands, moorlands and parks.”
Contact your GP or dial 111 if you begin to feel unwell with flu-like symptoms following a tick bite.