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HomeWeekly RoundupPublic Health England confirms presence of the tick-borne encephalitis virus

Public Health England confirms presence of the tick-borne encephalitis virus

A disease that can harm the brain, and which is spread to humans through tick bites, has been identified in the UK for the first time, reports The Guardian. Public Health England (PHE) confirmed the presence of the tick-borne encephalitis virus in Thetford Forest, Norfolk, and on the Hampshire-Dorset border.

PHE said it believed a “handful” of infected ticks had been found in both locations, with only one highly probable case of tick-borne encephalitis so far. The health body said the risk was very low but it was investigating how common ticks with the virus might be. In addition to the encephalitis virus, the parasites can carry other diseases, including the more common Lyme disease.

Dr Nick Phin, of PHE, said: “These are early research findings and indicate the need for further work. However, the risk to the general public is currently assessed to be very low.”

According to the Encephalitis Society, a charity that supports people affected by all types of encephalitis, less than 2% of people die from the viral infection. The illness begins with flu-like symptoms before progressing to a more serious second phase with meningitis and swelling of the brain in a quarter of cases.

[link url="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/oct/29/tick-borne-encephalitis-found-uk-first-time"]The Guardian report[/link]

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