Lyme disease, is an illness caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which lives in the gut of some ticks. The New Forest is one area of the country where infected ticks can be found, so care should be taken when walking or cycling in the New Forest, particularly during spring and summer time. Most ticks do not carry the bacteria, but infection could be passed on to people bitten by infected ticks. To be safe you should assume that any tick bite is potentially infectious.
Lyme disease can affect any part of the body and cause many different symptoms. The commonest symptoms relate to the person feeling unwell, having flu-like symptoms, extreme tiredness, muscle pain, muscle weakness, joint pain, upset digestive system, headache, disturbances of the central nervous system and a poor sleep pattern. In some cases an expanding ‘bull’s eye’ rash appears on the skin. However, a rash in any form is not a universal symptom. If the rash does occur, it is called erythema migrans (EM) which takes the appearance of a pink circular "bullseye" rash.
If you have symptoms of Lyme Disease, or you may have been bitten by a tick, you should consult with you GP. Let the GP know if:
- you've been bitten by a tick
- you've never seen a tick on your skin but have spent time in woods or areas with long grass
- you have had the red bulls-eye rash
There is a wide range of information about Lyme Disease available at the following websites:
Tick Bites and Lyme Disease (New Forest District Council)