Ticks and Lyme disease awareness
We are now in the “tick season” when ticks are abundant on moor, heath, grass or woodland. Ticks can spread Lyme disease – a bacterial infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. It is usually much easier to treat if diagnosed early.
Many people with early symptoms of Lyme disease develop a circular red skin rash (erythema migrans) around the tick bite. The rash can appear up to 3 months after being bitten by a tick and usually lasts for several weeks. Most rashes appear within the first 4 weeks.
The rash is often described as looking like a bull’s eye on a dartboard
The skin will be red and the edges may be slightly raised
Up to one third of people with Lyme disease do NOT report seeing a rash. As well as (or instead of) a rash people with Lyme disease may experience: flu-like symptoms (aching, fever, headache, sweating, joint pain, abnormal skin sensations, sometimes facial palsy, stiff neck).
If untreated, more severe symptoms can develop months or years later e.g. pain and swelling of joints, neurological pain or numbness, carditis, heart block, memory or concentration problems
Patients seen by a GP with an erythema migrans rash at the time of consultation should be treated with antibiotics as Lyme disease
Patients without a rash but with symptoms suggestive of Lyme disease and a credible risk of tick exposure should have blood taken and sent to an NHS laboratory for testing. If an initial blood test is negative, but symptoms persist, it is worth sending a repeat sample 3-4 weeks after the initial test. Any patient with a positive blood results should be treated with antibiotics.
Information is available for the public on
Ticks and your health: information about tick bite risks and prevention https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/552740/Ticksandyourhealthinfoabouttickbites.pdf
Lyme disease: signs and symptoms