Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can be passed to humans through being bitten by ticks (small blood sucking insect).
These ticks commonly feed on mammals such as sheep, deer and mice, and so can be found in areas of woodland, grassland and heathland, both here and abroad.
The most common symptom of Lyme disease is a red skin rash that looks similar to a bull’s eye on a dart board. If left untreated, further symptoms can develop over 30 days, including:
a high temperature (fever) of 38ºC (100.4ºF) or higher
joint pain and swelling
neurological symptoms, such as temporary paralysis of the facial muscles
A person with Lyme disease is not contagious because the infection can only be spread by the ticks. If caught early the disease can be treated with antibiotics and cleared up within a few days. However if left untreated it has the potential to become a serious debilitating condition.
The best way to avoid any problems is to check for local information about the area you plan to visit. Follow advice and take reasonable precautions such as using insect repellant and wearing appropriate clothing. Light coloured clothing allows you to see any ticks and brush them off, and wearing long sleeves, and trousers tucked into socks is sensible to protect bare skin.
If you have been in an area that may have ticks, check yourself over, especially around the backs of knees, underarms, scalp and groin areas. If you find a tick, remove it gently by gripping it as close to the skin as possible (around the head and mouth parts, not the body) preferably using fine toothed tweezers, and pull steadily away from the skin, taking care not to leave any part of the tick attached to the skin. Disinfect the area around the wound. Remember to check children and pets too.
If you develop any symptoms or feel unwell after potentially receiving a bite, seek medical advice.
Further information is available from the NHS website.