A tick-borne parasite which causes a deadly malaria-like illness is spreading in the UK. Deadly malaria-like diseases are being spread in the UK by a tick-borne parasite.
Babesia venatorum, the name of the discovered parasite, lives in sheep in the Scottish Highlands, according to researchers. People visiting the region have been warned by them of the potential risk.
The disease caused by the parasite is babesiosis which is normally seen in animals but recently humans are being affected as well.
While it has not been officially diagnosed in the UK, reports of deaths in US alongside infected areas such as Austria, Italy and China are present.
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, infected individuals can get fever and jaundice, although extreme cases may result in death.
This makes it the second such risk this year, following the brain infection that was being spread by encephalitis was being spread by ticks in Norfolk, Hampshire and Dorset.
University of Glasgow scientists conducted a study that the B. venatorum organism had been found in 11 out of 93 sheep in the north-east of Scotland.
The exact locations were not specified although sheep located in the farms in the Highlands’ east coast were known to have them. Roe deer and cattle were tested as well, although they showed no signs of infections.
Since none of the animals were brought from other countries, scientists were baffled about how the infection occurred.
One theory inferred that migrating birds from Scandinavia may have spread it.
Willie Weir, senior university clinician, stated: ‘The presence of B. venatorum in the UK represents a new risk to humans working, living, or hiking in areas with infected ticks and livestock, particularly sheep.
He further said that although the threat to humans appears to be low, nevertheless local health and veterinary professionals will need knowledge of the disease if the health risk from tick-borne disease in the UK is to be fully understood.