A virus carried by ticks, which is common in many parts of the world, is now present in the UK.
The risk of Tick-Borne Encephalitis (TBE) is still very low – only one person is confirmed to have been infected in England so far last year, but the tick species that carries the virus is widespread in the UK. Most people do not develop symptoms but swelling to the brain is possible.
Signs and Symptoms
Tick-Borne Encephalitis symptoms occur in two stages.
First signs of TBE include flu-like symptoms such as:
• High temperature
• Muscle pain
On average, these symptoms last around eight days and most people make a full recovery.
In around 20-30 percent of cases, people go on to develop more serious symptoms. This is when the virus has spread to the protective tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord and the brain itself.
More serious symptoms can include:
• Change in mental state
• Confusion, disorientation or drowsiness
• Sensitivity to bright light
• Inability to speak
If these symptoms occur, you’ll most likely be admitted to hospital for medical attention. These more severe symptoms will subside after a few weeks, but it could take several months or even years to fully recover. There is a risk of long-term complications and around one in 100 cases of TBE turns out to be fatal.