Four Patients Diagnosed With Deadly Tick-Borne Disease

Four Patients Diagnosed With Deadly Tick-Borne Disease

( – The recent arrival of spring marked the waning days of the flu and cold season. However, it also hurtled the planet’s northern half into other potential risks, like a rise in tick-borne disease.

On April 5, the United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issued a press release discussing the government’s tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) detection throughout England.

A risk assessment, recently updated by a multi-agency committee, indicated four instances of “probably or confirmed” TBE had been detected in England since 2019. Health officials reported the following incidents:

  1. July 2019: A highly probable case of TBE was discovered when a European tourist became ill after reportedly being bitten by a tick in a southern coastal town.
  2. July 2020: A probable case of TBE was diagnosed in a patient near England’s south coast.
  3. September 2022: A confirmed case of TBE in eastern England, believed to have been acquired three months earlier in Scotland.
  4. October 2022: Another confirmed case likely originating from England’s northeastern coastal region.

For those unfamiliar with the term, TBE is a viral infection that impacts the human body’s central nervous system. The incubation period after a tick bite ranges from 7 to 28 days, at which point it presents as a dual-phased disease. First-phase symptoms can include:

  • fever
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • myalgia
  • headache

TBE’s second phase can lead to exaggerated symptoms and other diseases like meningitis, radiculitis, meningoencephalitis, paralysis, and myelitis.

Fortunately, the UKHSA assessment rated the probability of human infection as “very low for the general population,” including individuals who work or visit affected areas. It ranked its confidence level in the assessment as “high, with some uncertainty” surrounding the “current geographic distribution of infected ticks.”

The study recommended local officials heighten the awareness of avoidance measures for the public in “known affected areas.” It also suggested updating the national encephalitis guidance, using serology testing, and considering vaccination for high-risk groups like forestry workers.

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