Lyme Disease: What you need to know

What are the symptoms and how can you prevent it?

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Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread to humans by bites from infected ticks found in woodland and heath areas.

The ticks look like tiny spiders with thick bodies. They feed on the blood of birds and animals including pets and livestock, as well as humans.

If left untreated, it can cause serious health problems, so it's essential to be aware of the symptoms and get medical help immediately if you suspect you have developed the condition. A course of antibiotics will normally be enough to treat it if it's caught early enough.

Lyme Disease rash or Erythema Chromium Migrans. This condition is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi that is transmitte

The NHS estimates there are 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of Lyme disease in people in England and Wales each year. About 15% of cases occur while people are abroad.

You should see your GP if you develop any of the symptoms described below after being bitten by a tick, or if you think you may have been bitten.

Early symptoms of Lyme disease include a distinctive circular rash (a bit like a bulls eye on a dart board) at the site of the tick bite, which appears at any time from around three to 30 days after being bitten.

The affected area of skin will be red and the edges may feel slightly raised, and the rash may increase in size and may even appear on other parts of the body.

However, a rash is not always present in people with Lyme disease. Other symptoms include flu-like symptoms such as joint pain, muscle pain, tiredness, headaches, chills, a temperature and/or neck stiffness.

If Lyme disease is not treated, more serious symptoms develop in the later stages, which can occur several weeks, months or even years later. These can cause problems with the nervous system including paralysis of facial muscles, swollen joints, and even meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain).

Cases of Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis) have been reported throughout the UK, but areas known to have a particularly high population of ticks include Exmoor, the New Forest, the South Downs, parts of Wiltshire and Berkshire, Surrey, West Sussex, Thetford Forest in Norfolk, the Lake District, the Scottish Highlands and the North York Moors.

See also: How to prevent bed bugs

See also: Natural remedies for insect bites