Rare tick-borne infections diagnosed in England

11 August 2020

Article: 54/3202

Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed the diagnosis of a case of babesiosis and a probable case of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) in England. This is the first record of a UK-acquired case of babesiosis, and the second case of TBE being acquired in the UK. Both are rare infections, usually spread by the bite from an infected tick. Babesiosis is caused by a parasite which infects red blood cells, while TBE is a viral infection that affects the central nervous system.

Both patients have been transferred to hospital, where they are receiving appropriate treatment and supportive care. PHE has surveyed sites in Devon, close to where the person with babesiosis lives, collecting and testing hundreds of ticks, all of which tested negative for the parasite which causes babesiosis. PHE has also tested deer blood samples from areas in Hampshire, near to where the person with probable TBE lives, which have shown evidence of likely TBE virus infection, matching similar results found in 2019.

Further information on TBE can be found on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites.

Source: PHE, 31 July 2020