Be Lyme Disease aware
If you spend time outdoors in Scotland and the wider UK you should be aware of tick-borne Lyme disease. The disease is caused by Borrelia, a spirochete bacteria.
It’s the most common tick-borne disease in the northern hemisphere and there are multiple strains of the bacteria.
Lyme disease is endemic in many parts of the UK, especially in woodland or heath and and moor lands but disease carrying ticks can also be found in urban areas and gardens.
Public Health England estimates that there are 3000 new cases of Lyme disease per year, although experts reckon this is a huge underestimate.
Before scaring you all, you should be aware that not all ticks carry the disease. However, it’s important that you know how to spot the symptoms if you find a tick attached to you.
Follow these tips
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid being bitten by ticks.
- Avoid walking through long grass and stick to paths.
- Cover skin and tuck trousers into socks and wear long sleeved tops.
- Using insect repellent.
- Check yourself – and your partner and children – for ticks after a shower.
- If you see an embedded tick remove it as soon as possible with a tick removal device.
- If you become unwell or notice a rash, see your GP immediately and mention your concerns about Lyme disease.
Lyme disease symptoms
Symptoms can start with an erythema migrans (EM) rash, often described as a bulls-eye rash. However, it can also be more irregular, which sometimes leads to a misdiagnosis of ringworm or cellulitis.
Not every Lyme disease patient will experience or remember a rash, and it’s thought that the rash appears in two out of three Lyme patients. The rash may not appear straight away either.
Symptoms of Lyme disease can include unexplained flu-like symptoms, soreness and achiness, light and noise sensitivity, cogntitive problems, fatigue, a stiff neck, facial palsy, numbness and tingling.
If left untreated, the infection can spread anywhere in the body leading to around 70 recognised symptoms. People can develop issues with their endocrine and neurological systems and experience musculoskeletal, cardiac, dermatological and neuropsychiatric problems.
Lyme Disease UK, a registered charity founded by Lyme disease patients and run by volunteers, aims to raise awareness of the disease.