People are being urged to be 'tick aware' when enjoying green spaces this summer after a case of Babesiosis was confirmed in England for the first time.
Public Health England (PHE) stressed that the risk of infection of babesiosis 'remains very low', and that cases of the disease in the UK are rare.
Babesiosis is caused by a tiny parasite called babesia that infects and destroys red blood cells. A similar paraste, Babesia canis, had previously been identified in dogs.
PHE also confirmed a second 'probable' case of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), a viral infection that affects the central nervous system. Both patients are receiving care in hospital.
Dr Katherine Russell, consultant in the emerging infections and zoonoses team at PHE, said: “It is important to emphasise that cases of babesiosis and TBE in England are rare and the risk of being infected remains very low. Lyme disease remains the most common tick-borne infection in England.
“Ticks are most active between spring and autumn, so it is sensible to take some precautions to avoid being bitten when enjoying the outdoors. Seek medical advice if you start to feel unwell after a tick bite.”
PHE has been surveying sites in Devon close to where the person with babesiosis lives, collecting and testing hundreds of ticks. However, all tested negative for the parasite which causes babesiosis.
Health officials have also tested deer blood samples from Hampshire in areas near to where the person with probable TBE lives, which have shown evidence of likely TBE virus infection. This matches similar results found in 2019.