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Deadly virus from tick bites that causes flu-like symptoms found in three patients


A deadly infection spread through tick bites has been found in the UK for the first time, health officials have warned.

Three cases of tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) in patients have been confirmed by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in Yorkshire, Norfolk, and on the border of Hampshire and Dorset.

Further tests on ticks across the country have found the disease - which was commonly found in parts of Europe and Asia  is now widespread in the UK, with experts warning it is ‘unlikely that TBEV will disappear’.

 A surveillance programme has been established, with the NHS asked to send samples from suspected cases to the UKHSA.

Public health officials say the risk is low but have urged walkers to take precautions and seek medical help if they fall ill after being bitten.

 Dr. Helen Callaby, of the UKSA, said: ‘Although the risk to the general public is very low, it is important for people to take precautions to protect themselves from tick bites, such as covering their ankles and legs, applying insect repellent and checking clothes and your body for ticks, particularly when visiting areas with long grass such as woods, moorlands, and parks.’

 The virus typically causes mild flu-like symptoms but can lead to severe infection in the central nervous system such, as meningitis or encephalitis.

 More serious cases can include a high fever with headache, neck stiffness, confusion or reduced consciousness.

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