Lyme disease can be passed on to humans by tick bites. Ticks are small parasites, often found in woodland, which feed off the blood of mammals. They are normally red-brown colour, but become paler as they feed. The most common symptom of Lyme disease is a red circular rash that looks like a bull’s eye which develops around the bite mark. Other symptoms include tiredness, fever and blurred vision.
When the infected tick bites it usually releases the bacteria after a period of 36 hours, though, in some cases, transmission can occur prior to 24 hours. Though tick bites are hard to notice because the bite does not cause pain, remove a tick as soon as you spot it to prevent infection. This is relatively easy to do with a pair of tweezers: steadily pull the tick away from the skin avoiding squeezing or twisting the tick. It is best to remove all of the tick, but if the mouth parts remain in the skin, don’t be alarmed. Though this can cause local infection, you are not at risk of Lyme disease when the tick’s body is not attached to the mouth part. For a detailed description of the best method to remove ticks, universally accepted by all disease prevention authorities, visit: BADA-UK. It is important to remove ticks correctly, as incorrect tick-removal techniques can increase the risks of disease transmission at any time by inducing regurgitation of the tick’s saliva and gut contents.
If Lyme disease is diagnosed in its early stages, within the first 30 days, it can be treated successfully with 2 – 3 week course of antibiotics. Diagnosis is made through two blood tests which look for antibodies fighting the bacteria in the blood. If the disease is left untreated for many months it can lead to arthritis, nervous system problems and meningitis. So it is very important to see a GP if you suspect you have been bitten.
The most common symptom of Lyme disease is the Erythema Migrans (Bull’s-eye rash), but not all patients present with this. In fact, of the last available figures for laboratory-confirmed cases, only 32% presented with the rash. As sometimes rashes can be hidden under body hair or hair on the scalp, it is important that anyone who develops flu-like symptoms or sudden ill health following a tick bite should visit their doctor for advice.
You can reduce the risk of being bitten by wearing long sleeved clothing, tucking trousers into socks, and wearing hats during any activity in woodland or heathland areas. Insect repellent can also be used as a deterrent, and make sure to check children thoroughly for any ticks after any countryside activity.
Comments and Questions
Comments & Questions are now archived, but if you see anything on the site that worries you, please report it and one of our moderators will look at it as soon as possible.
Please note: Unfortunately Channel 4 cannot respond to individual inquiries. If you have any concerns, you can check out NHS Choices, but ultimately it is always best to check with a health professional.
The information provided on this website (including any NHS Choices medical information) is for use as information or for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. We do not warrant that any information included within this site will meet your health or medical requirements. This Embarrassing Bodies site does not provide any medical or diagnostic services so you should always check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.