By NewsDesk @infectiousdiseasenews
Health officials in the United Kingdom have reported the first locally transmitted babesiosis case.
In addition, Public Health England (PHE) saw the second ever UK-acquired case of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE).
Both patients have been transferred to hospital, where they are receiving appropriate treatment and supportive care.
PHE regularly undertakes work to understand the potential risks of tick-borne infections in England. This year, PHE has surveyed sites in Devon close to where the person with babesiosis lives, collecting and testing hundreds of ticks – all tested negative for the parasite which causes babesiosis.
PHE has tested deer blood samples from Hampshire in areas near to where the person with probable TBE lives and they have shown evidence of likely TBE virus infection, which matches similar results found in 2019.
Babesiosis is caused by Babesia parasites that are transmitted by Ixodes scapularis ticks, also known as blacklegged or deer ticks.
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.
Dr Katherine Russell, Consultant in the Emerging Infections and Zoonoses team at PHE, said:
It is important to emphasise that cases of babesiosis and TBE in England are rare and the risk of being infected remains very low. Lyme disease remains the most common tick-borne infection in England.
It is important to ‘be tick aware’ and take precautions to reduce your risk of being bitten by ticks when enjoying green spaces this summer including:
- keeping to footpaths and avoiding long grass when out walking
- wearing appropriate clothing such as a long-sleeved shirt, and trousers tucked into your socks makes it less likely that a tick will bite and attach
- considering the use of repellents containing DEET
- making it a habit to carry out a tick check regularly when you’re outdoors and when you get home
- if you have been bitten by a tick, it should be removed as soon as possible using fine tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool which is sold by many outdoor stores, vets and pharmacies. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull upwards slowly and firmly. Once removed, wash your skin with water and soap, and apply an antiseptic cream to the skin around the bite
- contact your GP promptly if you begin to feel unwell, remembering to tell them you were bitten by a tick or recently spent time outdoors