Killer tick-borne brain disease arrives in the UKRita Dune
Killer tick-borne brain disease arrives in the UK.
Public Health England says it detected the tick-borne encephalitis virus in Thetford Forest and on the Hampshire-Dorset border.
Ticks are becoming more common in parts of the UK
A potentially fatal disease spread to humans through tick bites has been found in the arachnids in the UK for the first time.
The tick-borne encephalitis virus generally produces no or only mild flu-like symptoms, but sometimes can affect the brain and central nervous system and can occasionally kill.
It is already present in mainland Europe and parts of Asia.
It is investigating the prevalence of infected ticks, but in general, numbers have been on the rise because of increasing deer populations.
They also live on other animals and in undergrowth. It is thought infected ticks could have arrived in the UK on migratory birds.
Ticks can also carry other diseases, such as Lyme disease.
Dr Nick Phin of PHE said: “These are early research findings and indicate the need for further work. However, the risk to the general public is currently assessed to be very low.”
Long-lasting or permanent neuro-psychiatric effects are found in 10 to 20% of infected patients.
Last week, MPs warned the growing threat posed by invasive non-native species is costing the economy £1.7 billion a year, as they suggested one million volunteers are needed to slow the arrival of between 36 and 48 new species into Britain over the next 20 years.
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