Called B. venatorum, the body causes babesiosis, a disease that affects animals, but also humans, and which requires emergency medical intervention.
The presence of the organism has been recorded mainly in China, but also in Europe – in the last decades, two cases of infections have been confirmed in people in Italy, but in the United Kingdom the body has not been identified until now.
According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), an infected person may have flu-like symptoms and jaundice, and serious cases can lead to death.
In a study conducted at the University of Glasgow, scientists observed that the body was identified in sheep from the north-east of Scotland.
"The presence of B. venatorum in the UK represents a new risk for people working, living or hiking in areas where ticks and pets are infected, especially sheep," said Willie Weir, a scientist at the university. .
'' Although we estimate that the threat to humans is small, human and veterinary practitioners need to consider this condition and ensure that the health risks of tick-borne illness in the UK are well understood. Our discovery comes from recent reports of detection of tick-borne encephalitis virus in the UK. In conjunction, these findings signify a change in the landscape of tick-borne pathogens in the UK, and the underlying causes of this situation must be investigated, '' added the specialist.
The researchers collected blood samples from sheep, cows and deer from northeastern Scotland, from areas where ticks were previously detected. DNA from the parasite was detected in the blood of a large number of sheep, which did not show symptoms of the disease, but could transmit it.
Scientists believe that B. venatorum was brought to the UK by migratory birds from Scandinavia.
The study is published in the December issue of the scientific journal Emerging Infectious Disease.