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Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease illustration

What is Lyme disease?

This sneaky microbe can infect you if you are bitten by a tick, causing a red, ‘bullseye’-shaped rash and flu-like symptoms which can sometimes develop into a long-term condition.

Lyme Disease illustration

Risk areas for Lyme Disease

Map of risk areas for Lyme Disease
  • Key fact

    In most people who have been infected, a red, bulls-eye shaped rash develops within 30 days of the tick bite.1

  • How do people catch Lyme disease?

    Being bitten by an infected tick which carries the bacteria which cause Lyme Disease.2 Ticks climb onto your clothes or skin as you walk through dense vegetation and then feed on your blood. They are also frequently found on animals.

  • Which countries are affected by Lyme disease?

    Northern hemisphere countries from North America through Europe to Russia and China (see map). The number of Lyme Disease cases in Europe has been steadily increasing.2

  • What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

    Most people who have been infected develop an expanding, red, circular ‘bulls-eye’ rash around the bite. They may also have fatigue, fever, headache, a stiff neck, and joint and muscle pain.2

  • How serious is Lyme disease?

    Lyme disease is effectively treated with antibiotics. If untreated, it may eventually cause arthritis and possibly also problems with the heart and nervous system.2

  • Can I prevent getting Lyme disease?

    You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:

    • Visit your nearest convenient pharmacy or specialist travel health clinic for a risk assessment before your trip
    • Avoid places – like long grass – where ticks live3,4
    • Use a recommended insect repellent containing either Picaridin, DEET, PMD or OLE, IR3535 or 2-undecanone3
    • Wear appropriate clothing (e.g loose fitting long-sleeved clothes, long trousers, socks and shoes) to minimise exposed skin3
    • Check every day for ticks that may have attached themselves to your body. Carefully remove any that you find using a tick remover or tweezers. Gently grip the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it away without twisting or crushing. Then wash your skin with water and soap and apply an antiseptic cream.4

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  1. European Centre for Disease Control. Factsheet about Borreliosis. March 2016. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Book 2020. Chapter 4 Travel-Related Infectious Diseases. Lyme Disease. February 2021. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Book 2020. Chapter 3 Environmental Hazards & Other Noninfectious Health Risks. Mosquitoes, Ticks, & Other Arthropods. July 2019. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)
  4. NHS Choices. Conditions. Lyme disease. April 2018. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)

UK-BOTB-2100025 May 2021