Lyme Disease

Background

Lyme borreliosis or Lyme disease is an infection with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected tick.

Ticks are small spider-like creatures that can be found on bushes and undergrowth in Scotland’s:

  • countryside
  • parks
  • gardens

They feed on the blood of birds and mammals, including humans. If a tick bites an animal carrying Borrelia burgdorferi, the tick can also become infected. The tick can then transfer the bacteria to a human by biting them.

The best way to prevent Lyme borreliosis is to be aware of the risks when you visit areas where ticks are found and take sensible precautions.

You can reduce the risk of infection by:

  • Keeping to footpaths and avoiding long grass when out walking
  • Wearing appropriate clothing in tick-infested areas (a long-sleeved shirt and trousers tucked into your socks)
  • Wearing light-coloured fabrics that may help you spot a tick on your clothes
  • Using insect repellent on exposed skin
  • Inspecting your skin for ticks, particularly at the end of the day, including your head, neck and skin folds (armpits, groin, and waistband) – remove any ticks you find promptly
  • Checking your children’s head and neck areas, including their scalp
  • Making sure ticks are not brought home on your clothes
  • Checking that pets do not bring ticks into your home in their fur

Removing all ticks quickly will help prevent infection. They're best removed using a specially designed tick removal device available in pharmacies and outdoor shops throughout Scotland. Fine tipped tweezers can also be used to lift the tick off. A video clip showing how to remove a tick is available on the NHS inform website.

Further information about the symptoms, treatment and prevention of lyme borreliosis is also available on the NHS inform website.

Guidance

Information on reducing the risk of Lyme borreliosis from the outdoors environment is available on the NHS inform website.

Read our ticks and Lyme borreliosis information sheet and view a poster on ticks and lyme borreliosis in Scotland