Do not use petroleum jelly, burning or attempt to remove with fingernails as this may stress the tick and increase the risk of infection.
Check your whole body, including the scalp of small children. An important early sign of Lyme disease is a red skin rash called erythema migrans which typically occurs 3-30 days after the bite of an infected tick.
Scientists had been aware of the Borrelia miyamotoi bacteria since it was identified in Japan 20 years ago, but it was not associated with any particular disease until a discovery at Yale School of Public Health in 2011.
Durland Fish, Emeritus Professor at the Yale School of Public Health, said: “We stumbled across it at our laboratory in our colony of ticks. I happened to be at a conference in Cyprus where there were posters about an infection in Russia.
Typical places are behind the knee and in the groin; most adults are bitten below the waist, but small children above the waist.
The risk of Lyme disease transmission increases with the length of time the tick remains attached so it is important to check for ticks and remove them correctly with a tick removal tool.
In theory, Ostfeld’s early warning system gives public health officials a two-year window to prepare. And what can you do to protect yourself in the meantime?
In many other cases, this would be enough time to roll out a vaccination programme. Lyme disease is the most common infection following a pest bite in the US: the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 300,000 Americans contract Lyme disease each year, calling it “a major US public health problem”.
There are now concerns that the appearance of the new disease in Britain will lead to confusion in the diagnoses of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
Ticks are ground dwelling, but when in need of a meal will climb a stalk of vegetation and wait, with hooked front legs extended, for a passing host.
They will then walk on the host to find a suitable spot and pierce the skin with barned mouthparts, making them difficult to remove.
The rash expands slowly and is usually not itchy or painful.
One in three people do not notice this rash but if you see it, take a photograph for evidence.