Lyme disease is a life-changing condition that starts when a person is bitten by an infected tick.
People suffering with early symptoms of the disease can develop a red, circular skin rash around the tick bite.
It might not be instant, however. The rash can appear up to 30 days after being bitten by a tick.
It’s usually easier to treat if it’s diagnosed early – but current estimates put the number of people being diagnosed is rising.
Around 3,000 cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed each year in England and Wales, the NHS reports.
Symptoms of the disease include:
Flu like symptoms of aching, fever, headache
- Joint pain
- Light and sound sensitivity
- Abnormal skin sensations (tingling, numbness, itching)
- Stiff neck
- Erythema migrans rash
Despite the rash being an obvious signal, worryingly in the UK, a third of cases do not have a rash.
Lyme disease ‘season’ runs from March to October – those at risk tend to be people who work outdoors. This is because ticks live in humid and moist environments – shrubs, long grass.
The disease can be found in ticks across most of the UK and is common in mainland Europe and the United States.
A whopping 17% of ticks in the UK are infected with borrelia bacterium, the bacteria linked to Lyme disease.
If a tick bites you, it’s important not to squeeze it, twist it or squash it. Try to use fine-point tweezers or a special tick-removing tool to grab the insect as close to your skin as possible.
Then you should disinfect the bite area and wash your hands, save the tick in a pot for testing – labelling the pot with your name, the date, size of the bite and how long you think it was attached to your skin clearly marked.
See a GP if you have symptoms of Lyme disease and let the GP know if you’ve been bitten by a tick or if you’ve never seen a tick on your skin but have spent time in woods or areas with long grass.
What is a tick?
They are small, spider-like insects that latch onto the skin and feed on blood. The small animals can cause Lyme disease if they bite into a person allowing certain bacteria to be transmitted into the body.
According to the NHS, they are a common presence in UK woods, moors or thick grass.
You should remove a tick as soon as you spot one on your skin, and see a doctor if you get a circular rash spreading out from where you were bitten or you get Lyme disease symptoms.