Thursday Thunder – Tick-borne Encephalitis Virus in England & New Chinese Study on the COVID Outbreak Origins
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we travel and think about global health. Now we know that, as international travelers, we can also play an important role in preventing diseases from spreading.
In this post, we’ll take a look at a new study published by Chinese scientists on COVID-19 origins. Plus, we’ll discuss a tick-borne disease that causes encephalitis, which has recently been detected in England.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Chinese Study on the COVID outbreak origins
As you may recall from previous posts, China had allegedly failed to disclose epidemiological data on COVID-19. However, by the end of last year, the Chinese government was urged by the WHO to share specific and up-to-date data to better understand the impact of COVID in the country.
Last week, Chinese researchers came up with a new study that may shed some light on what started the COVID pandemic. This is the first peer-reviewed study on biological evidence gathered back in 2020.
In this study, they analyzed samples taken from the Huanan seafood and wildlife market. A place that was suspected to be strongly linked to the COVID outbreak.
The findings show that virus-positive swabs also contained genetic material from wild animals. As a result, some scientists believe this evidence backs the idea that the disease was initially spread from an animal to a human.
However, on the other hand, some researchers recommend caution when interpreting these results. They are uncertain and suspicious over the fact it took 3 years to make this genetic content public.
Rare Tick-Borne Encephalitis Outbreak in England
Lately, England has experienced growing concern regarding the tick-borne encephalitis virus. In the UK, the disease is relatively rare. In fact, only one case was confirmed last year.
However, a recent case has emerged, and ticks carrying the virus have been discovered in:
What is Tick-borne encephalitis?
Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease transmitted by hard ticks of the Ixodidae family. The ticks get this disease by feeding on an infected animal’s blood (usually small rodents), and then transmit it when feeding on humans.
Tick-borne encephalitis symptoms are unusual given that most infected people don’t show any. But, when present, the initial symptoms are:
- General weakness
There are certain cases where these symptoms will resolve on their own after a few days, just for worse symptoms to appear after a week.
In serious cases, the brain membranes or spinal cord are affected, leading to:
- Loss of coordination
- Difficulty speaking
- Weakness of the arms or legs
Preventing Tick-borne Encephalitis
Researchers speculate that the emergence of tick-borne encephalitis in the UK may be linked to migratory birds arriving due to climate change while carrying the tick. So, to avoid them and prevent infection, you should:
- Stay away from dense woodland or moorland
- Cover your skin while being outdoors
- Use insect repellents
- Regularly check your clothes and body, as well as your pet’s
Also, keep in mind that adults are usually bitten on the legs, while children are usually bitten on the head or neck.
If you find a tick on you, we advise you to:
- Remove them safely with fine-tipped tweezers or a similar element
- Clean the bite area with an antibacterial wash, or soap and water
- Monitor the area for several weeks
If you experience any symptoms, you should seek medical attention.
As we’ve seen, even though the pandemic seems to be behind us, understanding the origins of COVID-19 remains crucial. What’s more, staying informed about global health news helps ensure safer travels.
Getting ready for your next adventure? Take the necessary steps to ensure you stay safe and healthy: test for COVID-19 before traveling.
Find testing centers near you with our global directory.