Ticks and Lyme Sisease: Resources For You & Your Patients
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted to humans when they are bitten by an infected tick. It is the most common tick-borne disease in the UK.
Frontline healthcare practitioners play a key role both in promoting awareness of tick borne infections amongst their patients and in the early diagnosis and management of Lyme disease.
Ticks are widespread across Great Britain and are most active in the spring and summer months. Lyme disease can be contracted anywhere where humans come into contact with ticks – in the countryside, urban parks or private gardens. It is important not to dismiss any areas as ‘zero risk’.
For travellers, Lyme disease is particularly prevalent in parts of central, eastern and northern Europe (including Scandinavia) and in the north eastern states of the US.
For information on where ticks are located in the US, please visit: www.cdc.gov/lyme/datasurveillance
It is important for the public to be aware of ticks – to know what measures to take to avoid being bitten, how to perform tick checks on themselves, family members and pets and how to remove any attached tick promptly and safely.
Further sources of awareness information for patients and the public:
- PHE produces this leaflet about tick awareness.
- Other tick awareness resources, including a video, are available on the gov.uk tick awareness for the public site.
- Information for patients can be found on the NHS lyme disease site.
Diagnosis And Management
National guidance for healthcare practitioners on the diagnosis and management of Lyme disease is available on the Nice lyme disease overview site.
Lyme disease most commonly presents as a spreading red rash (View some examples of this rash) which looks like a bull’s eye around the bite area. These cases should be treated on clinical suspicion.
About a third of Lyme disease cases do not notice a rash and may present with nonspecific flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue, myalgia and headache. Consider a range of differential diagnoses (more information on which can be found on the gov.uk lyme disease differential diagnosis page) and laboratory testing to reach a diagnosis.
More information on laboratory testing for Lyme disease can be found on the gov.uk lyme disease sample testing advice site.
If recognised and treated promptly most cases will resolve without complications.
Antibiotic treatment guidelines for different presentations of Lyme disease are specified in the national guidance and shown in this bmj visual summary.