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Hyalomma m. marginatum

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Risk Assessment & Safe Working Practice
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Risk Assessment

Hazard: Tick bite
Risks: Diseases
  • Lyme disease or borreliosis - often mis-diagnosed as ME (myalgic encephalomyelytis) or CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome). It is caused by a spirochaete bacterium called Borrelia (similar to the syphilis causal agent). Borrelia burgdorferi occurs in a wide range of wildlife species and is the causal agent of Lyme disease in humans. Borrellia afzelii is found in small mammal-tick life cycles while Borrelia garinii is found in bird-tick life cycles (Source: Medlock et el., 2009, BBC Wildlife magazine, April, 258-266.

    • Borrelia burgdorferi - "causes Lyme disease usually recognised by a distinctive skin lesion, erythema migrans, accompanied by headache, stiff neck, myalgias, arthralgias, fatigue and possible swelling of the lymph nodes. While treatable with antibiotics, unrecognised and/or untreated patients may develop meningoencephalitis, myocarditis or even arthritis, particularly in the knees".

    • Borrelia garinii - "This organism was orginally classified as Borrelia burgdorferi, however B. garinii was subsequently determined to be a separate species based on genetic analysis. The type strain of B. garinii was isolated from Ixodes ricinus in France. B. garinii is a major causative agent of tick-borne borreliosis in Europe. Neurologic symptoms, such as arthritis, meningitis, and extreme leg and back pain are characteristic of infection by B. garinii". Generally associated with rodents.

    • Borrellia afzelii - usually causes neurological aspects of Lyme disease, such as extreme back and leg pain, meningitis and partial facial palsy. Generally associated with birds, but recently found in rodents. Also: "causes a distinct skin infection known as acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans (ACA). ACA is seen in the late stage of LB and can be diagnosed as, progressive, fibrosing skin process due to continuing infection of the bacterium. It is followed by an inflammatory stage with bluish red discoloration and cutaneous swelling, often seen with recurring events even a year after first notice. The early stages of LB can be noticed by a bulls-eye like marking on the surface of the skin, most notably on the extremities".

  • Babesiosis - a malaria-like parasitic disease caused by Babesia, a genus of protozoal piroplasms. After trypanosomes, Babesia are thought to be the second most common blood parasites of mammals and they can have a major impact on health of domestic animals in areas without severe winters. Cases of babesiosis have been reported in a wide range of European countries. Disease in Europe is usually due to infection with Babesia divergens, while in the United States Babesia microti and Babesia duncani are the species most commonly associated with human disease.  Source: Wikipedia - Babesiosis

    • Red water fever - Babesiosis is an infection of the red blood cells by a single cell parasite of the genus Babesia. In the UK, babesiosis is usually caused by Babesia divergens. The disease is spread between cattle by ticks (Ixodes ricinus in the UK). The babesia is injected into the bloodstream by the tick and then invades the red blood cells and begins dividing, eventually rupturing the cell. Clinical signs begin around 2 weeks after infection. Babesiois is rare except in known tick areas. However in these areas even though disease is often relatively mild there is a significant impact on productivity and fertility in affected cattle. Symptoms include red urine. Source: The CattleSite

  • Ehrlichiosis - a bacterial infection that infects and kills white blood cells. These obligately intracellular bacteria are members of the family Anaplasmataceae, genera Ehrlichia and Anaplasma. Five species have been shown to cause human infection: Anaplasma phagocytophilum (which causes human granulocytic anaplasmosis (formerly known as human granulocytic ehrlichiosis)), Ehrlichia ewingii (which causes human ewingii ehrlichiosis), E. chafeensis (which causes human monocytic ehrlichiosis), E. canus, and Neorickettsia sennetsu. The latter two infections are not well studied. Recently, human infection by the newly discovered Panoloa Mountain Ehrlichia species has been reported. Source: Wikipedia - Ehrlichiosis.

  • Louping ill - (also known as Ovine Encephalomyelitis, Infectious Encephalomyelitis of Sheep, Trembling-ill) is an acute viral disease primarily of sheep that is characterized by a biphasic fever, depression, ataxia, muscular incoordination, tremors, posterior paralysis, coma, and death. Louping-ill is a tick-transmitted disease whose occurrence is closely related to the distribution of the primary vector, the sheep tick Ixodes ricinus. Louping ill is caused by RNA virus called Louping ill virus that belongs to genus Flavivirus, family Flaviviridae. (Source: Wikipedia - Louping ill). Louping-ill also occasionally affects people (Source: Health Protection Agency - here). This disease kills sheep on Dartmoor.

  • Q-fever - Q fever is a highly infectious, but relatively rare condition caused by bacteria commonly found in farm animals ..... About 70 cases of Q fever are reported in the UK each year, but many cases go unreported as they are mild, or show no symptoms. Source - NHS Choices. Also:  HPA - take precautions also against tick bites

  • Boutonneuse fever (also called Mediterranean spotted fever, fièvre boutonneuse, or Marseilles fever) is a fever as a result of a Rickettsia infection caused by the bacterium Rickettsia conorii and transmitted by the dog tick Rhipicephalus sanguineus. Boutonneuse fever can be seen in many places around the world, although it is endemic in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. The French word boutonneuse means spotty. Source: Wikipedia - Boutonneuse_fever. It is also carried by UK tick species and is spreading towards the UK. Source: Ticks of North West Europe by Paul Hillyard, published for The Linnean Society of London, by the Field Studies Council, Shrewsbury, 1996, ISBN 1 85153 257 9, page 26.

  • Tick-borne meningoencephalitis or Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a tick-borne viral infection of the central nervous system affecting humans as well as most other mammals. The virus can infect the brain (encephalitis), the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) or both (meningoencephalitis). It is transmitted by the bite of infected deer- or sheep ticks or (rarely) through the non-pasteurized milk of infected cows. Sexual transmission has been documented in mice with vertical transmission to progeny. Sexual transmission with humans has never been documented. Not in the UK yet? Source: Wikipedia - Tick-borne meningoencephalitis.  Also BADA UK.

Borreliosis, babesiosis and ehrlichiosis can occur together in humans and there is at least one local case of this. It is said they can be transmitted by a single tick bite.

The Health Protection Agency - Epidemiology of Lyme borreliosis reports there were 705 cases of Lyme acquired in England & Wales in 2007,  (this rises year-on-year, see the graph) and "It is estimated that between 1,000 and 2,000 additional cases occur each year in England and Wales".

In Scotland, there were 232 laboratory confirmations in 2007, which is consistent with the upward trend which began in 2005 with 96 cases followed by 177 in 2006. Source: Health Protection Scotland - this page (or Defra Zoonoses UK Report 2007). Also .....

"There were seven cases of Lyme borreliosis in Northern Ireland in 2007. In Scotland, there were 232 laboratory confirmations in 2007, which is consistent with the upward trend which began in 2005 with 96 cases followed by 177 in 2006. In England and Wales there were 797 confirmed cases of Lyme borreliosis in 2007 (table 12); 705 indigenously acquired and 92 acquired abroad". Source:  Defra Zoonoses UK Report 2007, page 60.

This means there could have been be up to 3,000 new cases in the UK in 2007? Also .....
there were 7734 new cases of HIV in 2007 (in UK HIV Statistics by Year) - this puts Lyme into a perspective? Lyme is said to be the next biggest epidemic after HIV. Ed.


Providing the Safe Working Practice for collecting and handling ticks is followed (see below), the risks are minimised to an acceptable level. Ideally, no collected tick should then be lost after seeing it on the collecting blanket, although the breeze may occasionally take one away.


Safe Working Practice

Safety precautions - Personal

Safety precautions - Methodological



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