Tick that can carry a host of deadly diseases similar to that of Ebola has been found in the UK for the very first time, health officials have revealed. The tick known as Hyalomma rufipes tick is a small blood-sucking arachnid usually confined to Africa, Asia and parts of southern Europe can carry an 'Ebola-like' virus named Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic fever (CCHF).
According to the Daily Mail UK, the disturbing find, which could 'present a threat to public health in the UK', has been documented in the journal Ticks and Tick-borne Diseases. A vet at The Barn Equine Surgery in Wimborne is believed to have removed the tick from a horse last September who then sent it to PHE's tick surveillance team.
Writing in the journal, Dr Kayleigh Hansford, of PHE's medical entomology and zoonoses ecology group said 'This is the first time Hyalomma rufipes has been reported in the United Kingdom.
'The lack of travel by the horse - or any in-contact horses - suggests that this could also be the first evidence of successful moulting of a Hyalomma nymph in the UK.'
The researchers suspect that the tick hitched a ride on a migratory bird before landing in the UK. The World Health Organization last year named CCHF as one of 10 pathogens that pose the most 'urgent' threat to humanity.
Health experts told Express UK “The early signs of CCHF could easily be mistaken for the flu. “It's vital pharmacists and doctors quiz patients about whether or not they'd recently come into contact with ticks.'
The first confirmed case of CCHF in the UK was found in a man who returned from Kabul, Afghanistan in October 2012. The 38-year-old died 96 hours after seeking help at an A&E unit in Glasgow.
Currently, the ticks are found in Greece, Northern China, Russia, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, Yemen and Oman.