Lyme disease in East Sussex

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can be spread to humans when bitten by an infected tick.

Only a small minority of ticks in the UK are infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

Lyme disease can be contracted anywhere in the UK but is more common in the South of England in areas such as East Sussex and the South Downs, as well as the Scottish Highlands.

Ticks can be active all year, but numbers start to increase from late March, peaking in late spring and summer and will remain active until October.

People are most likely to encounter ticks when doing activities in the countryside or other green spaces.

How to prevent Lyme disease

Tick bites can go unnoticed and not all tick bites will result in Lyme disease. Things you can do include:

  • wearing clothing that covers your skin whilst walking in green spaces to prevent ticks finding a spot to bite
  • consider wearing light colour clothing so you can easily see ticks and brush them off
  • use insect repellent
  • check for ticks on your clothes or skin, and on children and pets after being outdoors
  • remove any ticks you find immediately with a tick-removal tool or fine tipped tweezers

Early identification and correct removal of the tick reduces the risk of transmission of Lyme disease.

What symptoms should I look for?

Symptoms of Lyme disease will usually develop between 1-4 weeks but can appear any time between 3-30 days after exposure. Things to look out for include:

  • a circular spreading red rash that can look like a bull’s eye
  • non-specific flu-like symptoms
  • muscle or nerve pains

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms after being bitten, call your GP or NHS 111 and mention where you’ve been and when you were bitten

 Clinical signs and symptoms of Lyme disease are described in detail in the 2018 NICE Lyme disease guideline

The UK Health Security Agency and the NHS have produced resources which provide details about the health risks of tick bites, how to check your skin for ticks, how to remove a tick and how to prevent being bitten.

NHS fact sheets

UK Health Security Agency fact sheets

Tick Awareness and Tick Surveillance Scheme (gov.uk)

What is Lyme disease, and why do we need to be tick aware? (gov.uk)