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The UK has reported its first case of a rare tick-borne virus

The UK has reported its first case of a rare tick-borne virus

Photo: Tufts University School of Medicine

The United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) confirmed the first human infection with the tick-borne virus on Wednesday (5). The patient was diagnosed with encephalitis, contracted after the bite of a small arachnid carrying a virus called TBEV – short for tick-borne encephalitis virus -, a species of the flavivirus family that causes the highest incidence of infection worldwide. Dengue, yellow fever and Zika.

According to Health England, three possible cases of the virus have been identified since 2019, but only one of them has actually been confirmed. The infection was confirmed this Wednesday (5/4) in the Yorkshire region dated 2022, making it the first case in the UK.

Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) is common in many parts of the world, including countries in Europe, but not in the UK, UKHSA deputy director Meera Chand said. TBEV causes a variety of illnesses, such as a completely asymptomatic, mild flu-like illness or, in more severe cases, a central nervous system infection such as meningitis or encephalitis. Symptoms are similar to those of other causes of meningitis and include a high fever with headache, stiff neck, confusion, or loss of consciousness.

“Our surveillance suggests that tick-borne encephalitis virus is very rare in the UK and the risk to the general public is very low. Ticks also carry a number of infections, including Lyme disease, so take steps to reduce the chances of being bitten outdoors in areas where ticks thrive, such as bogs and woodlands, and to keep ticks away.” Remember to check and remove them immediately,” assured Chand. In a press release.

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Despite the low risk, the virus has settled in the UK and care is needed

According to Roman Peek, professor of disease ecology and molecular epidemiology at the University of Glasgow, the virus has established itself in many places in the UK and may have been spread by “infected ticks traveling on migratory birds”. This assessment is confirmed by a new risk assessment, published by an intergovernmental panel of several English agencies, which suggests that tick-borne encephalitis is likely in the UK.

The UK government, in a press release published on its official website, warned people to stay away from ticks. Health organizations recommend seeking medical advice if any symptoms begin to appear after contact with small arachnids.

Symptoms such as severe headache, stiff neck, pain when looking at bright lights, seizures, sudden confusion or change in behavior, weakness or loss of movement in arms and legs, droopy face, change in vision or slurred speech are warning signs of meningitis. , encephalitis or other neuroinflammation and especially in cases where contact with ticks may require attention.

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