A DEADLY brain swelling disease which is spread to humans by tick bites is now present in the England, experts have warned.

It comes after three cases of the tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) were discovered in humans and in ticks in several parts of England.

In 2022, England recorded it's first ever confirmed case of the infection which was linked to the Yorkshire area, the UK Health Security Agency (UKSHA) said.

Health officials also recorded two separate "probable" cases in Thetford Forest, Norfolk and on the Hampshire-Dorset border, where the virus has since been detected in ticks.

It's likely the bug is also present in other areas as the tick species which carries the virus is widespread in the UK, the experts said.

Before now, the disease was only found in Europe, Russia, parts of China and Japan.

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Although public health officials say the risk is low, they have urged walkers to take precautions when walking through wooded or grassy areas.

Dr Meera Chand, of the UKHSA, said: “Our surveillance suggests that tick borne encephalitis virus is very uncommon in the UK and that the risk to the general population is very low.

"Ticks also carry various other infections, including Lyme disease, so take steps to reduce your chances of being bitten when outdoors in areas where ticks thrive, such as moorlands and woodlands, and remember to check for ticks and remove them promptly.”

Experts are looking into why the virus has been found in ticks more frequently in recent years.

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Most people who catch the TBEV will have no or only mild flu-like symptoms.

But in some cases can affect the brain and central nervous system and can sometimes be fatal.

Symptoms of this are similar to other causes of meningitis, and can include a high fever with headache, neck stiffness, confusion or reduced consciousness.

According to the Encephalitis Society, a charity which supports people affected by all types of encephalitis, fewer than two per cent of people die from the viral infection.

A vaccine is available privately for tick-borne encephalitis.

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