Lyme disease is a tick-borne bacterial infection that can be transmitted to humans when they are bitten by an infected Ixodes ricinus tick.
Lyme disease can be contracted anywhere in the UK but is more common in the south of England and the Scottish Highlands. Only a small minority of ticks in the UK are infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Being bitten by an infected tick does not necessarily result in Lyme disease.
Symptoms and differential diagnosis
Lyme disease most commonly presents as a spreading bullseye rash (erythema migrans) around the bite area. In the UK, about a third of cases do not notice a rash and may present with fever, headache, fatigue or neurological symptoms.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory (RIPL) provides Lyme disease laboratory testing services for England and Wales and issues detailed advice on sample testing.
Lyme disease is not common in the UK, with an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 new cases each year in England and Wales.
Official surveillance is based on laboratory confirmed diagnoses only, which are published quarterly in the zoonoses section of the Health Protection Report. Acute Lyme disease data by local authority in England is available on UKHSA’s Fingertips platform.