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Health Explained: What is Lyme disease?

24 May 2011 Last updated at 23:32 BST

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by tick bites. The ticks themselves have to be infected with the bacteria in order to pass it on, and most bites do not result in the condition; but the UK sees around 3,000 cases a year and the number is on the rise.

Jolyon Medlock runs the Health Protection Agency's tick surveillance and research project from the HPA's Porton Down laboratory. His unit has built up a collection of around 10,000 specimens collected from all over the UK.

They encourage members of the public to send in any ticks they find on themselves or pets after they have been out in the countryside. This information is helping to build up a better picture of the current distribution of ticks and where they may be expanding their range.

Jolyon Medlock explained to BBC News what Lyme disease is and what symptoms to look out for. He describes how people catch it from ticks, what can be done to prevent getting bitten and how to safely remove a tick.