Lyme disease is a condition caused by a bacteria, which is spread by an insect called a tick. The ticks bite an infected animal and then bite us. An infected tick often leaves a classic mark of Lyme disease: a distinctive circular rash, described as a bullseye on a dartboard. This rash may take up to a month to develop, and some don't get it at all. Anyone affected might feel unwell with a fever, muscle aches, headaches and lethargy.
If left untreated, Lyme disease can progress to cause multiple symptoms in many different parts of the body that last weeks or months after the initial infection.
Ticks are small, spider-like creatures that feed on the blood of animals and humans. They are found in grasslands and woodlands, and sometimes even in your garden, and more commonly in southern England or the highlands of Scotland. Ticks cling on when someone or something brushes past them, they bite and then start to feed on your blood. You may notice them once they have been feeding, as they swell up to little brown lumps.
They will drop off once they have finished their feed, but this can be days later. Ticks can transmit bacteria causing other diseases alongside Lyme disease, so be aware, especially in the UK and Europe. Simple self-help can go a long way, and after being out for a long walk, check yourself over for any little mites. Have a good look and feel, including places like the groin and hairlines, get a trusted companion to check less accessible areas. Check your pets too - they like furry necks and floppy dogs' ears.
Not all ticks carry disease. If you have been bitten by a tick, or think you may have been bitten by a tick, watch out for signs that can indicate you need to see a doctor. If you have a rash that looks like a bullseye, you should take a photo and ask your doctor to take a look. Your doctor may prescribe you some antibiotic tablets or send you for a blood test to investigate further.
You are fit for work if you have been bitten by a tick. If you have more serious symptoms, you may need to see your doctor.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and, if you are comfortable, examine you. Depending on the possible diagnosis, further tests such as blood may be carried out, or you may be referred to a specialist department. The doctor may prescribe some medication to help with your symptoms.
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