*Updated 30th Oct 2015
Following the recent publicity from John Caudwell there has been a flourish of articles in the UK media, have listed some below for you!
22 Sep 2015:
Self-made billionaire John Caudwell speaks about the disease which has affected him, his ex-wife and three of his children
03 Oct 2015:
‘Like the Caudwells, our family also has Lyme disease’ A second family has been struck down by Lyme disease following claims by John Caudwell, the telecoms tycoon, that he passed the illness on to his children.
10th Oct 2015:
Lyme disease cases have quadrupled – Growth in housing and climate change blamed for quadrupling of cases in little more than a decade (some patient stories inc a lady from N Ireland)
12th Oct 2015:
The symptoms of Lyme disease are a lot like flu – which is perhaps why NHS treatment is so inadequate – It took four years for me to be diagnosed..
24th Oct 2015:
Scientists have discovered a new illness similar to Lyme disease, spread by ticks and resistant to antibiotics – raising fears about growing numbers of people succumbing to debilitating symptoms.
30th Jun 2015:
Invasion of the tiny ticks with a bite that could wreck your health for years
22 Sep 2015:
Billionaire’s whole family is struck with Lyme disease: Phones 4u founder admits to ‘completely devastating’ diagnosis
3rd Oct 2015:
The secret epidemic that’s devastated my family
13th Oct 2015:
Fashion heiress, 30, says condition took over ‘every single cell in her body and her brain’
18th Oct 2015:
Lingerie designer loved by Helena Bonham-Carter reveals how nine-year battle with Lyme disease has left her bedridden and needing a wheelchair
19th Oct 2015:
9,000 Brits could have Lyme disease without knowing it – Potentially deadly bug on increase
18th Jun 2015:
Thomas Hardye students team up with university for disease study – The Dorchester school pupils will work with the University of Exeter on a new study to explore the distribution of the condition in the region.
15th Sep 2015:
Phil Wilson MP: Spreading the word about Lyme
15th Oct 2015
Are London’s Lyme disease hotspots safe and is a vaccine on the horizon?
24th Aug 2015:
Anaphylactic shock warning over Highland tick bites
4th Oct 2015:
EXPERTS say they cannot rule out that potentially fatal Lyme disease, which is more common in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK, can be passed on to other members of the family.
21st Apr 2015:
Grey squirrels are in the dock again – this time for harbouring a serious infection that can be spread to humans by ticks.
13th Oct 2015:
Several people in Northern Ireland suffer from Lyme disease and are desperate for help (3 case studies inc a company director, environmental scientist & retired nurse)
18th Oct 2015:
Justine, of Carmarthenshire, spoke out after the public health authorities confirmed cases of the tick-borne infection have quadrupled in 12 years
29th Sep 2015:
BBC 5 Live Radio Interview with John Caudwell
30th Sep 2015:
BBC Midlands TV Interview with John Caudwell
13th Oct 2015:
BBC Breakfast TV with Lyme Aid founder Sophie & Dr Chris Newton
11th Oct 2015:
John Caudwell interviewed on Sky News
29th Sep 2015:
This site shows an ITV Breakfast Television interview with John Caudwell & a clip of his son Rufus aged 20
12th Oct 2015:
Concern about rise in UK Lyme disease cases
Natural World News
25th Sep 2015:
Ticks Found in South London Park Linked to Lyme Disease
*Updated 2nd Jun 2015
European space agency grant to lead Highland battle against Lyme disease
May 2015 – A grant from the European Space Agency could help a group of Highland agencies battle a potentially debilitating disease caused by tick bites.
Reports of Lyme disease have increased tenfold in Scotland over the past decade, with the Highlands particularly affected.
Now the European Space Agency have given around £182,500 to help a group including NHS Highland and the University of the Highlands and Islands lead research into the disease.
Invasion of danger ticks from Europe: Disease threat to pets and owners multiplies after relaxation of controls
Daily Mail May 2015 – Britain has seen a surge in number of disease-carrying ticks warn experts
Prevalence of Borrelia infection in ticks from wildlife in south-west England
Veterinary Record 2010;167:26 1012-1014
41 per cent of ticks collected from different hosts (ie badgers, hedgehogs) showed various strains of borrelia in DNA testing..
Lyme Protest UK took place outside the Dept of Health Offices 13th May 2015 – for more details go to: http://worldwide-lyme-protest.org.uk/where-when. A review of the day is available at: http://lymediseaseuk.com/2015/05/28/uk-lyme-disease-protest-2015/
Big Tick Project to track rising threat of Lyme disease
April 2015 – Vets across the UK are set to take part in the Big Tick Project, the largest nationwide collection of ticks from dogs in a bid to help scientists, led by Professor Richard Wall at the University of Bristol, track what is feared to be a growing threat to people and their dogs from tick-borne zoonotic diseases such as Lyme disease (Borrelia).
47 per cent of dog owners surveyed don’t know that ticks can transmit diseases to both dogs and humans, whilst over half (54 per cent) of dog owners don’t know that Lyme disease affects both dogs and humans.
Big Tick Project inc interview with Chris Packham (from Spring Watch)
TV South interview with Maher Family, 19 Jan 2015
Interview with the Maher family, specifically Kelie Maher, about her need to go abroad for treatment. This was shown on the day of the Parliamentary Meeting about Lyme Disease in the House of Commons organised by a Lyme sufferer and Simon Hughes MP.
*Updated 16th Feb 2015
Parliamentary Hearing, London UK Jan 2015
This hearing was patient led with testimonies by patients, lab specialists (UK & Germany) & some Lyme treating physicians. A number of feedback reports are available as follows:
Lyme Discussion Group Report: (about halfway down page has links to summary or detailed reports plus below it some links to presentations) http://lymediseaseuk.com/2015/01/20/forum-feedback-patient-led-parliamentary-lyme-disease-conference-london-2015/
Presentations by Denise, Peter, Armin Schwarzbach & Dr Newton plus video by Dr Macdonald: http://counsellingme.com/ParliamentaryLymeMeeting/MeetingIntroduction.html
Blog Site – Lyme Voices UK
Great site for tick repellants in the UK
Purple Turtle: http://www.purpleturtle.co.uk/acatalog/Ticks.html
Public Health England Video
Five Alive Radio Interview 31st Dec 2014
Mountaineering Council of Scotland (see pages 6-9 of PDF)
Lyme Disease Action Releases new GP course for UK
*Updated 29th Oct 2014
The British Mountaineering Council have produced some excellent sources of information:
Some UK meetups for Lyme patients listed on this informative site:
Schoolgirl fears she could be paralysed by tick bite (2008)
A schoolgirl fears she could be left paralysed after being bitten by a tick bug while walking near her home. By Nick Britten 2:32PM BST 15 Jul 2008
Lyme disease warning as tick numbers explode
Devastated Tracy Clarkson, 39, has been struck down with meningitis twice, lost the use of her legs, suffered brain inflammations and had a hysterectomy, after contracting the potentially-fatal Lyme disease. BY JANET BOYLE, 19 OCTOBER 2014
Mum’s life left in ruins by a TICK after she contracted Lyme disease when out walking
Tracy Clarkson was bitten by the blood-sucking parasite on a walk in Cumbria, and has since battled meningitis and lost the use of her legs By Stephen White Oct 19, 2014
The hungry bug hiding in the grass that can wreck your life for years
Vanina Mannu, 41, contracted Lyme Disease from a tick in her garden
Heralded a 2-year struggle with ill health that left her severely incapacitated
By JOANI WALSH FOR MAILONLINE 22 April 2014
It took doctors two years to diagnose my Lyme disease
RICO Franchi freely admits he “cried like a baby,” when he took the call from his GP. Published on 12 April 2014 by Caroline Wilson
*Updated 29th May 2014
The British bug that could paralyse you
A simple tick bite left literary agent Ed Victor sick, depressed and desperately tired – but he was one of the lucky ones: Daily Mail 12th April 2014
News coverage of patient stories & rallies in the UK available at: http://worldwide-lyme-protest.org.uk/media/
*Updated 20th May 2013
Scottish sufferer in Lyme disease Whitehall protest
Rally leader Nicola Seal interviewed by the Scottish Herald.
Ignorance of tick-borne Lyme disease ‘costing lives’
When Joanne Drayson regularly walked her dogs in the woodland near her home in Guildford, Surrey, she was unaware that a tick the size of a poppy seed would infect her with a serious and debilitating disease.
Lyme disease treatment sparks Whitehall protest
For more links to radio, news & TV awareness for the UK rally held in May go to: http://worldwide-lyme-protest.org.uk/media/
*Updated 8th March 2013
Crown Office investigate death of Highland gamekeeper admitted to hospital with Lyme disease
By ALISTAIR MUNRO
Published on Tuesday 18 December 2012 16:23
THE death of a Highland gamekeeper who was admitted to hospital with Lyme disease is being investigated by the Crown Office.
Dad-of-two Scott Beattie, 43, died in Raigmore Hospital in Inverness earlier this month from multiple organ failure. He worked as head stalker on Wyvis Estate at Glenglass, near Evanton in Ross-shire, where he lived with his partner, Louise Sutherland, and two young children.
His funeral takes place on Wednesday at his home, Eileanach Farm, on the Wyvis Estate.
The Crown Office’s Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit is now investigating the death. The unit, which was set up last year by the Lord Advocate, provides expertise and specialist advice for Procurators Fiscal from the very earliest stages of non-criminal investigations. In particular the Unit deals with more complex non-criminal cases, including providing guidance in all cases where a Fatal Enquiry is to be held.
A spokesman for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “ The Procurator Fiscal has received a report into the death of a 43-year-old male on 4 December 2012 in Inverness.
“The investigation into the death under the direction of the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit is ongoing and the family will be kept updated in relation to any significant developments. I can also confirm that the report we have received is a death report, not a criminal report”.
A spokeswoman for NHS Highland said: “As is standard, sudden deaths are referred to the Procurator Fiscal”.
The fiscal then reported the matter to the Crown Office, who said Mr Beattie’s family would be kept up to date on any findings.
Sources say he had been in the hospital for a month. Family and friends will gather in Glenglass, in the shadow of Ben Wyvis, for the funeral.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection is spread to humans by infected ticks and can affect the skin, joints, heart and nervous system and is known as the “occupational disease” of woodland and moorland workers. The UK’s Health Protection Agency estimates there could be as many as three thousand cases in Britain a year and in very rare cases the non-infectious Lyme disease can be fatal.
Mr Beattie is survived by his partner and sons Duncan and Marcus as well as his brothers, Ki and Gordon and parents, Marie and Gordon. Wyvis Estates factor Hugh O’Donnell said: “Scott was a greatly valued employee, a good friend and fantastic son, partner and father.”
The bloodsucking ticks that carry the Lyme bug borreliosis usually feed off birds, deer and sheep. Not all ticks are infected but for anyone bitten by an infected tick, symptoms include a “target-like” rash of concentric circles, sometimes described as “like an RAF roundel or an archery target”.
Professor Hugh Pennington, Emeritus Professor of Bacteriology at Aberdeen University, said the condition could be considered an “occupational disease” for farmers and estate workers and they ought to be given information on how to protect themselves and seek treatment. However he added he would “very surprised” if the disease itself had caused Mr Beattie’s death.
He said: “That would be very uncommon. It is a chronic disease that is treatable through antibiotics, though it does affect many organs.
“It can affect the heart, the brain, the nerves, joints and skin, but most people do get better. If it’s combined with something else there is a theoretical possibility it could be fatal but it is not something textbooks mention.
“The disease has a skin rash associated with it at the site of the bite which is how most patients first notice it. People can be ill for quite a while before it is realised they have it.”
Researchers from Scotland’s National Lyme borreliosis Testing Laboratory said earlier this year that the Scottish Highlands and Tayside were “hotspots” for Lyme disease, which if left untreated can also cause neurological symptoms, including meningitis, palsy and encephalitis. The disease is on the rise in Scotland, according to the scientist’s findings.
The research compared rates of the disease in Highland, Tayside and the rest of Scotland per 100,000 population. Between 2005 and 2010, rates rose from around 28 to 56 in Highland, from around two to 17 in Tayside and from just one to around six for the rest of Scotland.
Wendy Fox, chair of the tick-awareness charity Borreliosis and Associated Diseases UK, encouraged people to be vigilant.
She said: “Some areas are considered highly endemic but you can pick up Lyme disease anywhere. People with overgrown gardens in urban areas can be bitten, and we are seeing more cases of urban acquired infection.
“The worry is if you start talking about hotspots and someone has been bitten, their GP might not think of Lyme disease because the patient has not visited a hotspot.
“We don’t want to put people off outdoor pursuits, we just want them to be safe while they are doing it.”
*Updated 2nd October 2012
Lyme disease – time to bite back
Thu, 06 Sep 2012 10:03:00 BST
Dr Richard Bingham’s goal is an accurate test that will mean quick and effective treatment of a tick-borne ailment that can have devastating effects
CAUSED by a bite from an infected tick, the early symptoms of Lyme disease are unpleasant but respond well to antibiotics. However, if diagnosis is delayed or mistaken, the illness can take a serious turn, leading to severe joint pain, brain infection and paralysis.
Now a scientist at the University of Huddersfield is on the trail of an accurate test that will enable quick and accurate detection of Lyme disease.
The British Paralympic archer Mel Clarke has spoken about her devastating experiences after she caught the infection while competing in the UK’s able-bodied archery team in the USA. Doctors were initially baffled, but although Lyme disease was diagnosed, she lost the sight in her right eye and she was paralysed from the waist down. She is now confined to a wheelchair but fought back to fitness and has issued urgent advice not to ignore the early symptoms of the disease.
The incidence of Lyme disease is growing in the UK, but its flu-like early symptoms, including chronic tiredness, are shared with many ailments, so that doctors face diagnostic dilemmas. If treatment begins at a late stage, patients face a gruelling 28-day course of antibiotics – and even after that, symptoms can return.
At the University of Huddersfield, the research carried out by Dr Richard Bingham focuses on the cause of Lyme disease, a spiral-shaped bacteria named Borrelia burgdorferi, which has the capacity to bind itself to human proteins, enabling it to invade various tissues and to camouflage itself against immune systems. Unlike most bacteria, it can even cross the ‘blood-brain barrier’, leading to serious neurological infection.
Ticks attach to the skin
Borrelia is carried by ticks, and in the UK and Europe they lurk in long, damp grass or on the branches of trees.
“When a warm blooded mammal comes along, the ticks attach themselves to the skin and start to feed,” explained Dr Bingham.
“The bacteria is actually inside the gut of the tick and it gets injected into the host through the salivary glands of the tick and once in your bloodstream, it starts to reproduce and can cause a quite nasty infection.”
Tick bite wound The first sign is a circular ‘bullseye rash’ as the bacteria spread out from the bite. Then they gain access to the bloodstream and will cause symptoms including a high temperature and tiredness.
“But many people have such flu-like symptoms and they don’t realise they have got this bacterial infection, so they don’t go to the doctors and therefore miss these classic signs of Lyme disease,” said Dr Bingham.
Diagnosis and antibiotic treatment at this early stage is vital in order to avoid the stage of infection known as late-borreliosis.
“Your immune system is able to clear the Borrelia from the blood, but it invades other parts of the body,” said Dr Bingham. “It can go into joints such as knees, elbows, the eyes and spinal fluid, and it can gain access to the brain.”
Greater understanding of Borrelia
Illustration of tick manifestation Meanwhile, doctors are confronted by symptoms that are shared by a number of diseases and conditions, making diagnosis difficult.
Ideally, when people are bitten by a tick they should remove it and keep it so that it can be tested for the presence of bacteria.
Now, assisted by two PhD students and an undergraduate researcher, Dr Bingham is using techniques including X-ray diffraction, small angle X-ray scattering and circular dichroism spectroscopy in order to reproduce the bacterial proteins that lead to Lyme disease. He will be aided by a major programme of investment in laboratory facilities at the chemistry department of the University’s School of Applied Sciences.
The research will result in greater understanding of the molecular structure of Borrelia, which could lead to new treatments. Also, the pharmaceutical industry could develop new diagnostic tools so that Lyme disease can conclusively be detected at an early stage.
In the UK the number of cases of Lyme disease confirmed by blood testing rose from 346 in 2003 to 1, 578 in 2009. But the real rate of infection is almost certainly much higher.
The Health Protection Agency estimates that there could be up to 3,000 new cases in the UK every year. Many victims do not fully recover, so the total number of people affected is accumulating, according to the charity Lyme Disease Action (LDA), which is calling for research in the field. Dr Bingham has recently delivered a paper on his research at a two-day conference convened by the LDA.
He has also authored and co-authored several journal articles. Dr Bingham was one of the authors of an article that was selected by a panel of judges as open of the 20 best – out of 4,000 – that had appeared in the Journal of Biological Chemistry during 2011.
A huge rise in tick-borne diseases
Some extracts from the above link:
If you go down to the woods today you could be in for a nasty surprise: ticks are on the increase. New research by scientists from the University of Oxford suggests that these small, eight-legged, blood-sucking parasites – part of the mite family – are becoming more abundant, infecting cattle, sheep and humans with a range of diseases.
While the situation in the UK would seem to be worsening, in parts of central and eastern Europe the explosion of tick-borne disease over the past 10 years has been nothing less than dramatic.
Ticks are “vectors” of disease, picking up pathogens from one host animal and passing them on to another. In many tropical parts of the world, insects such as mosquitoes are the main vectors of disease, but in temperate Europe, it is ticks who are the most significant carriers.
Across the world there are about 850 species of tick. Some 20 of these are found in the UK, of which the sheep tick, Ixodus ricinus, is the most troublesome. This transmits five disease-causing agents, including those that cause red water fever in cattle, and in sheep a disease called Louping Ill and a condition known as tick fever.
Humans are also at risk from sheep ticks, which transmit the bacteria Borrelia burghdorferi that can lead to Lyme disease. In serious cases, this can result in the paralysis of certain parts of the body. In some countries of mainland Europe, the most serious illness caused by a virus transmitted by ticks is tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), which kills one in every hundred people infected.
Professor Sarah Randolph is the head of the Oxford Tick Research Group, a team of scientists attempting to understand the complex web of factors that influence how populations of ticks fluctuate, and how this relates to patterns of infection. “What we want to do in our research is to understand all the relevant factors in the transmission of disease by ticks,” she says, “from the nitty-gritty of the biology of the organisms through to the bigger epidemiological picture of patterns of disease, and all the steps in between.”
In this country, many reports suggest that ticks are becoming more abundant. Precise figures are difficult to obtain, but the reported incidences of Lyme disease are increasing. About 300 cases were recorded in England and Wales in 2000, compared with about 50 in 1990. While a proportion of the rise is due to more rigorous diagnosis and reporting, it is also likely, Professor Randolph says, that there has been a real and steep increase in the number of cases here, as in the rest of Europe and the US. “In fact, if we look at what we know about the numbers of infected ticks around, there should be many more cases of Lyme disease, which suggests that cases are being under-recorded.”
There is anecdotal evidence, too, that farmers are suffering more than in the past, with sheep farmers reporting that ticks are more of a problem than they used to be.
“The sheep tick needs moist, shady conditions and is susceptible to drying out,” says Professor Randolph. “It loves woodland and bracken, for example.” There are four stages in its life cycle: egg, larva, nymph and adult. The egg hatches out in the early spring into a larva just visible to the naked eye. The larva attaches itself to a passing bird or mammal, feeds on its blood for three or four days and then drops off into the litter. Some months later, possibly having over-wintered in a state of suspended animation known as diapause, it emerges at the nymphal stage. This nymph, the size of a pinhead, will repeat the process of attaching itself to a host, feeding and dropping off to mature over several months into the next stage – the adult.
“The adult is two or three millimetres across and flat when it is unfed, but during feeding it swells to the size of a baked bean,” says Professor Randolph. “It is this that people often find attached to their dogs after a walk in the woods.”
Disease is spread by an infected stage of the tick feeding on its host and passing the pathogen, be it virus, bacterium or protozoan, into the host’s body. Another tick then picks up the pathogen when it feeds. It then passes it on when it feeds again once it has matured into its next stage.
“I feel strongly that the role of ticks in the spread of disease is an important area that has not received the attention it merits,” Professor Randolph says. “Vector-borne diseases are bad enough in the northern hemisphere, but in Africa they have scarred the entire continent. Diseases carried by ticks and the tsetse fly have made it impossible for Africans to keep livestock successfully, and this has had a devastating impact on the history of the continent. If it impossible to keep oxen, the farmers cannot till the soil efficiently to plant crops nor maintain soil fertility with animal dung. It is something that the West seems largely to have turned its back on. I would like to think that the work we are doing might be able to help solve these problems.”
Farmers’ Union of Wales warns schoolchildren to beware of ticks
The Farmers’ Union of Wales’s Anglesey branch will be visiting the island’s Caergeiliog Foundation School next Friday (April 3) to raise awareness of ticks – not the satisfying exercise book marks but the nasty wingless parasites.
County executive officer Heidi Williams has arranged for Catherine Woodward, a veterinary surgeon from Bodrwnsiwn Veterinary Group, and Holyhead GP Dr William Roberts to give sound advice to children on how best to prevent, identify and treat tick bites.
“Tick Prevention Week takes place between April 6 and 12 and this all-important session is well timed just before the children break up for the Easter holidays and will be venturing outdoors in the warmer weather,” said Mrs Williams.
Ticks are usually found on low plants and in leaf litter and are more abundant in late spring to early summer, and again during autumn, but they can be active all year round during milder weather above 3.5 degrees C.
Tick Prevention Week is an annual campaign organised by BADA-UK (Borreliosis & Associated Diseases Awareness UK). It is timed to coincide with the spring holidays when the weather gets warmer and more people get out and about.
“Tick numbers have been increasing,” said Mrs Williams. “This is largely due to warmer winters, an increase in host animals (such as deer), and changes in farming practices.
“A greater number of ticks results in more tick encounters for people and pets and more cases of infection. Since 2001, cases of Borreliosis (Lyme disease) have trebled in England and Wales and increased in Scotland by a factor of eight.”
Simple actions can deter ticks from biting us. If infection should occur, early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent any lasting effects.
This year, Tick Prevention Week focuses on children and making sure that they are tick aware too. BADA-UK chairman Wendy Fox said: “Ticks are a part of nature and there is no need to panic about them.
“However, we should be aware of where they are likely to be, how to prevent them from biting us, and what to do if we are bitten, because they can sometimes make us sick.
“Teaching children about ticks does not need to be scary. It’s no different to making sure they put on a seat belt in the car or that they don’t take sweets from strangers.
“It is very important that a child knows to come and tell an adult if they have been bitten.”
http://www.geocities.com/canasha2001/lyme.html (link now broken)
Some snippets of the text in the above link are as follows:
“Lyme bacteria, an oxygen-hating anaerobe, is found in the soil, where ticks pick it up during that part of their lifecycle. In Europe, its primary sources are both fleas, and the sheep tick, but it is possible that mosquitos can also transmit the disease if they have previously bitten a wild animal before biting a human being [tick talk note – studies show that birds & rodents may be carriers too]. There are known cases of Lyme from animal scratches and animal bites as well. It flourishes in areas where there is little ultraviolet sun, and more than normal rainfall. Ultraviolet sun, which ceases above the latitude of Kansas, naturally kills Lyme disease or at least keeps it in check for those affected. This matches the criteria for “hotspots” of Lyme being in the rainiest, northernmost states, as well as their European counterparts of Scotland, England and Ireland. It also matches exactly, the patterns of MS, which any Lyme patient or Neurologist can tell you, matches Lyme to a T. They are one and the same condition, triggered by environment, diet, and lack of sun.”
“Lyme has many names. Among its “symptoms” are ALL of the “ideopathic” (unknown-cause) diseases that plague americans, too many to list here – it affects the body by making sugar turn to lactic acid, which in turn can scar the kidneys over time, irritate the bladder, damage the liver, and upset the pancreas. Lactic acid causes muscle soreness and sensitive intestines/cramping problems (nervous stomach). It causes diabetes, by turning sugar immediately to lactic acid as the bacteria feed upon it. (c6h1206) becomes 2(c3h6o3) and the bacteria borrow oxygen from the blood as a catalyst, further enhancing their environment since they don’t prefer oxygen, and increasing fatigue. This in turn, causes a drop in sugar in the blood, which in turn creates fatigue, muscle soreness, abdominal cramping, sedentary disposition, and can cause depression from the lack of sugar. Difficulty concentrating, etc. Sedentary people are more likely those born fatigued, who have nothing to compare with! By avoiding sugar, white people’s health improves. Taking baking soda daily, and monitoring acidity like they used to do pre 1930 with litmus paper, combats this problem by neutralizing acid levels back to desireable “neutral” state. Other conditions it causes are female problems, birth defects, blindness/deafness/dumbness, autism, “spasticity”, MONO NUCLEOSIS, lactose intolerance, allergies, rashes and dermatitis, spasms/facial ticks/epilepsy, (why are facial ticks, caused by ticks, called ticks???) …heart disease, stroke, cystic fibrosis, migraines, mild neck stiffness/meningitis, circulatory problem (from affecting the tiny muscles controlling the valves in veins, letting blood back flow), TMJ, facial muscle pain and general muscle tension, arthritis, rheumatism, sinusitis, bronchitis and other similar lung conditions, what we used to call TB, muscle soreness, attention deficit, chronic fatigue, nervous disposition, easy clotting of the blood, high cholesterol, numbness of the skin increasing with age, thyroid problems, etc. A person can have one or one hundred of the subset conditions in “known” (fresh) lyme.”
“Lyme also eats proteins, many types. It eats myelin protein, which is known to be going missing in MS patients. The localities for MS hot spots exactly match the pattern of lyme disease, and I believe it is the same disease with a different name. Myelin is what nerves are made of – and damage to myelin, without a meat and potatos diet to replace protein constantly, causes brain troubles (alzheimers, parkinsons, alateral myotrophic scleroses, myocarditis), numbness of the bladder and/or muscle spasms in the elderly mistaken as “incontinence”, nerve troubles, stuttering, etc. Muscle cramp occurring in the heart, is more familiarly known as “heart attack”. It also eats melanin, or pigment protein. This causes freckles in the young, who really were meant to be darker than they are. You are seeing pigment being eaten in the skin. This is why freckles eventually completely go away by adulthood – as we age, more and more bacteria eat more and more protein, till we get to critical stages of health. It is ALSO why we see in Carribean people of afro/scot descent, a condition where the pigment from their skin dissappears from the hands and feet, moving upward over time. Lyme hates oxygen, and desires to reside in the furthest extremities of the body – eg. how diabetics feet are classically affected. Another protein eaten by this Lyme, is melatonin. Melatonin is what causes us to become sleepy, and lack of it causes all types of sleep disorder, whether too much sleep or not enough. Protein is crucial to the european descent person, and differences in elderly damage are most likely related to diet, and secondly, sun exposure or lack thereof. ”
“About 2 years ago, the BBC Online carried a story of an Australian doctor noticing a man contracting diabetes from his diabetic wife, tho he had no familial history of it, and concluded a study that Diabetes was bacterial. Lyme patients are told they have “lyme diabetes”, and I believe its one and the same condition, triggered by sugar intake or lack of. The English Government blackballed this physician, stating “do you know how much prejudice you could cause against diabetics”! So much for ethics and humanitarianism. The BBC also reported the same year, that MS was found to respond to antibiotics. Tho antibiotics merely shut off a person’s fight, and do nothing to cure any bacterial disease, the US didnt see fit to announce this important message on our shores. To date, they never have. MS is Lyme Disease, same condition, different name. Ever hear of the “walks like a snake” adage? More to follow…this is lengthy subject. I have 20+ years studying it to know what I know. Please spread the word to those you love. Elizabeth Baxter’s book also conveys this same message, dedicated to her fellow americans suffering because this knowledge is being hidden from the masses. ;)”
Statistics of Lyme in UK & Ireland:
Of 197 people interviewed through Eurolyme
N IRE: Antrim, Belfast, Armagh, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Londonderry, Down 4 2%
W ROI: Donegal, Connaught, Roscommon, Galway, Sligo 1 1%
SW ROI: Clare, Limerick, Kerry, Cork, Tipperary, Waterford 6 3%
E ROI: Wexford, Kilkenny, Carlow, Wicklow, Dublin, Meath, Westmeath, Offaly 5 3%
Overall Stats UK & Ireland
North Ireland 2%
(For some reason this adds up to more than 100% – it’s possible that some chose 2 areas if they weren’t sure but gives a general idea)
The Press and Journal – Lyme disease sufferer to warn children of risks
By Heather Baillache
A MORAY man who has suffered from Lyme disease for 10 years is to give a talk to children about how they can avoid it.
Andy Illston, 39, was a full-time firefighter and hillwalker until he contracted the disease after being bitten by a tick. He began suffering from flu-like illnesses and stomach bugs, but did not immediately link it to the tick bite.
Numerous visits to his GP followed, and Grampian Fire and Rescue Service put him on light duties at Elgin fire station because he was too ill to attend fires.
Mr Illston, of Templand Road, Lhanbryde, said his friends could not believe that such an active person could suddenly suffer from extreme exhaustion which would at times mean he could not get out of bed.
A chance encounter in 2007 with representatives from Lyme disease charity BADA-UK (Borreliosis and Associated Diseases Awareness) at Moy Games led to a “eureka moment”.
A test in August that year by a doctor at the infectious diseases unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary confirmed his fears.
He will tonight give a talk on behalf of BADA-UK to the youth club at Lhanbryde Community Challenge from 7.30pm, urging children to be aware of the risk of the insect bites during Tick Prevention Week.
He said: “Effective full removal of the tick is essential and people who have been bitten should see a doctor if they get a rash afterwards or experience flu-like symptoms within six weeks.”
Chester woman tells of decade of suffering after tick bite
Published Date: 14 April 2009
A CHESTER woman is calling for increased awareness about ticks after suffering with Lyme disease for more than a decade.
Joan Crawford, contracted the disease, also known as Borreliosis, when she was a child after being bitten by an infected tick.
About 12 years later, she began showing symptoms of the disease and has been ill ever since.
Joan, 35, of Grange Road, Newton, Chester, decided to speak out about the disease as part of Tick Prevention Week organised by BADA-UK (Borreliosis and Associated Diseases Awareness UK).
Ticks are small, blood-sucking parasites that carry a range of diseases and are often found in wild, rural places.
Joan, originally from Glasgow, said Lyme disease is hard to diagnose because of a lack of awareness about the condition.
She described the profound effect the disease has had on her life and said she might suffer from the effects for the rest of her life.
“The problem is that most people don’t get treated when they contract the illness and then get really ill years later,” she said.
“I didn’t get ill until I was about 23 or 24 years old. I didn’t receive any help from the NHS in terms of treatment and the only way I’ve been able to get proper treatment is to go private.
“I went to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and I was told if I had taken one month of antibiotics when I was bitten that would have sorted me out.
“I’ve now been on antibiotics and anti-parasitic drugs for four years because of the various infections I have.
“I was also diagnosed with ME. I was so ill I couldn’t work and I was getting headaches and blurred vision.
“I had immense fatigue and couldn’t stand or walk in a straight line. I couldn’t read things I used to be able to read.
“I used to be a chemical engineer managing a production plant but it was too much, so I went into consultancy until I couldn’t drive anymore.
“I probably contracted the disease when I was on the West Coast of Scotland when I was about 11 or 12 years old.
“We used to sail off the Western Isles and I was probably bitten more than once. My brother is in good health but that just means he probably wasn’t bitten by an infected tick.
“It has turned my life on its head. I used to love hill walking, cycling and outdoor pursuits but now I can’t tolerate any sort of activity.
“I’ve made a huge recovery but I’m still not well enough to go back to what I was doing before.
“My husband Dewi has been brilliant but he has had to change his working life as well so he could be near me and help me.”
Joan added it is important to look for signs of a tick bite and seek immediate medical attention if signs of the disease start to show.
“Do tick checks after being in the country by checking the neck, underarms and groin area thoroughly, because they tend to be in the places you can’t see,” she said.
“If a tick is found, make sure it is removed properly using tweezers or a tick hook. Get rid of them as soon as possible to minimise the chances of infection.
“After, if you experience flu like symptoms or get a rash then go to the doctors immediately.”
http://www.chestereveningleader.co.uk/news/Chester-woman-tells-of-decade.5168047.jp link now broken but kept for reference!
The Scotsman – Vaccine shortage threatens hill farms as tick infestations rise
Date: 18 April 2009
By Dan Buglass – Rural Affairs Editor
SHEEP farmers know to their cost that their charges can be subject to a wider range of diseases than virtually any other species of livestock, especially during late spring and early summer.
Most can now be prevented by using vaccines or other treatments, including Louping-ill, a virus condition spread by ticks on hill and upland farms which has the potential to cause significant losses. More than 40 years ago the Edinburgh-based Moredun Research Institute developed a highly effective vaccine, which was subsequently manufactured by a several commercial companies.
However, it has now emerged that supplies of the vaccine are extremely short and many farmers will find it difficult to source the product until autumn: this may prove to be too late to prevent substantial losses in susceptible flocks, particularly with tick infestations increasing.
Nigel Miller, vice-president of NFU Scotland, who is also a qualified vet, said: “The increasing number of ticks found on our hills and uplands are presenting a growing disease threat to many species including sheep, red grouse and humans.
“For those hill farms affected by high numbers of infected ticks, the use of the vaccine is an important part of the health programme for their flocks. We hope that the manufacturers will look at making fresh supplies of the vaccine available at the earliest opportunity.”
The manufacturers, Intervet-Shearing-Plough, issued a statement late yesterday: “We regret that the louping-ill vaccine will be unavailable to sheep producers this spring due to unforeseen circumstances. We have briefed the animal health trade on the situation and equipped them with the alternative disease management information they need to help their farming customers. In the absence of what is a unique vaccine the only means of controlling the disease in non-immune stock is through plunge dipping of sheep which will give around six weeks of control.”
Professor Willie Donnachie of Moredun, said: “This could be very serious for some farmers in vulnerable areas. The disease can also affect humans giving them a heavy fever and problems with the nervous system.”
The impact on red grouse populations also has the potential to decimate the best moors at a very considerable financial cost. Flocks were dispersed from many estates a decade ago, but tick infestations soon reduced the numbers of grouse shot. In recent years some estates have re-introduced flocks of wedders – adult male sheep – to act as “tick mops.”
My battle to make the NHS pay out for my treatment
6th May 2009
By Lynne Milford
A WOMAN claims she could end up forking out £50,000 on treatment for a rare disease if the NHS refuses to fund it.
Ria Heslop, 43, has been battling NHS North East Essex for more than two years, in an effort to get it to pay for medication she needs to treat lyme disease.
Mrs Heslop contracted the neurological condition after being bitten by a tick in 1999, but was not diagnosed until 2006.
She visited her GP and has seen several specialists over the years, reporting flu-like symptoms and migraines.
Mrs Heslop of Fordham Heath, Colchester, said: “I was showing neurological symptoms. My muscles were jumping and I just couldn’t get out of bed.
“I thought I was dying. The doctor sent me to a multiple sclerosis specialist and after that, it was one specialist after another.”
In 2006, Mrs Heslop visited a diagnostic specialist in the USA, who finally diagnose neurological Lyme Disease.
Back home, Colchester Primary Care Trust, which at that stage was responsible for her care, initially funded her treatment, but then withdrew it.
Since then, Mrs Heslop has been fighting to to get her treatment and in the meantime is paying for it herself.
She estimates the cost could be as much as £50,000 but she and husband, Dennis, say they would be happy if NHS North East Essex paid for the drugs she needs to treat the condition.
She said: “It has been very difficult and we have been struggling to afford the trips to the USA.
“It’s so sad, because when I was working, I was paying money into the NHS. You never think that it won’t be there to help you.
“I want my life back more than anything, but I think it’s unfair that I have to fight the NHS, as well as the disease.”
TRUST SAYS IT WANTS TO HELP
Mike Cable, assistant director of corporate services for NHS North East Essex, declined to comment on the case in detail.
He said: “This is a complex issue which is at a delicate stage. We are in continuing contact with Mrs Heslop in an effort to resolve the situation. However, we do need Mrs Heslop’s help to enable us to help her.”
He added the trust had asked “on a number of occasions” for diagnosis and treatment data from the USA.
“Without this, we are not allowed, for clinical safety and legal reasons, to pay for the treatment she is requesting,” he added.
“Mrs Heslop has so far declined to provide us with this information.
“We are keen and willing to offer Mrs Heslop every assistance possible, but we can’t do so unless she either agrees to release the information from the USA or agrees to see a consultant in the UK.”
However, Mrs Heslop showed the Gazette letters which says she sent the trust, giving them permission to view her medical records.
She said: “We have sent them letters repeatedly confirming my diagnosis, including letters from my consultant.
“They keep saying they want results of my blood tests but they have had them numerous times.”
LYME DISEASE FACTS
* Lyme disease is caused by bacteria transmitted to humans via the bite of an infected tick
* Seven to ten days after an infected tick’s bite, the first stage of Lyme disease begins with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches and joint pain
* Neurological complications most often occur in the second stage of Lyme disease
* These include numbness, pain, weakness, visual disturbances, and meningitis symptoms such as fever, stiff neck, and severe headaches
* Weeks, months, or years after a tick bite, other problems, such as difficulty with concentration, irritability, memory and sleep disorders and nerve damage can occur.
Man forced to go to Wales for diagnosis – local doctors ‘didn’t have knowledge’ of Lyme disease
By Donna MacAllister
A Moray security guard, who contracted Lyme disease from a tick, claims a lack of specialist knowledge in the north-east forced him to go to Wales for medical advice.
Tony Harris, from Cowie Muir, Fochabers, sought a diagnosis from a specialist in Cardiff after a tick bite caused seven weeks of flu and chronic muscular pain.
The 48-year-old said doctors refused to accept that he had Lyme disease and said he had bronchitis.
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria transmitted via a tick bite.
Early treatment is strongly recommended to prevent the bacteria affecting the nervous system.
Mr Harris said: “I started reading about my symptoms online and realised I was facing the prospect of becoming really ill and having no one to treat me because my GP didn’t have the knowledge, so I paid to see a private specialist who diagnosed me right away.
“It was worth it because I was able to get proper treatment once he diagnosed me with Lyme disease.”
NHS Grampian admitted it did not have a Lyme disease expert. A spokesman said GPs sought advice from the public health department.
Stephanie Woodcock, chairwoman of the UK charity Lyme Disease Action, said patients throughout the UK are struggling to get diagnosed.
She said: “It’s very difficult for patients but it’s not fair to blame the GPs. They have not been issued with proper information so they can’t be confident diagnosing it.
“Once patients manage to persuade doctors to treat them they can be on antibiotics for a long time.”
According to the Health Protection Agency, Lyme disease can cause a pink or red rash spreading from the tick bite. Some people also suffer flu-like symptoms with tiredness, headaches, and joint and muscle aches.
Infection of the nervous system is the commonest complication of Lyme disease in the UK.
This can cause facial palsy, viral-like meningitis, pain, weakness or altered sensation of limbs or trunk, or other symptoms.
Mr Harris said the disease had totally changed his life.
He said: “I used to be a real outdoor person, it’s just knocked me off my feet. I’ve got really bad arthritis in both my knees and sometimes I just can’t get out of bed.
“I’m 6ft and weigh 17 stone but I think my missus could probably beat me at an arm-wrestle now.”
Patient Spotlight: Ria Heslop: Colchester, Essex, UK (http://www.lymeappeal.org/ )
Traveling more than 4000 miles across the pond, Ria Heslop knows this: that her search for answers brought her here, and that it ends with Dr. Joseph Jemsek. “Coming to Dr. Jemsek for Ria’s treatment is like coming home; like finding the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle,” says Ria’s husband, Dennis.
After many years of misdiagnosis by the UK National Health Service, Ria joined a US-based Lyme disease support group to see where others infected with Lyme sought proper treatment. When she learned that Dr. Jemsek was actively accepting patients, she immediately made an appointment and traveled from Essex, UK, mentioning to her fellow support group members that finally she “was off to see the Wizard.” Ria is now starting treatment with the Jemsek Specialty Clinic for her severe case of neurological Lyme disease and associated co-infections.
Growing up in the country, Ria was an avid outdoorswoman involved with regular equestrian activities. It was during her late teens living near the Mendip Hills that Ria believes she was initially infected with Lyme disease when she developed a chronic rash that was noted on her UK medical records. After later adopting a stray kitten covered with ticks and fleas in Brentwood during 1999, Ria believes that she was re-infected (with another rash around her left ear), and soon began to develop extensive neurological symptoms associated with Lyme disease. “I believe I’ve had one bite too many”, says Ria.
During her struggle to seek a suitable Lyme-literate physician to treat her, Ria has had to overcome many obstacles to find her way to Dr. Jemsek. Testing CDC positive for Lyme on an IGenX test and having positive bands specific to Lyme disease from a second lab, Ria was told by many physicians that “there’s no point in (receiving) treatment. You only have a virus and you will get over it.”
Ria and her husband Dennis say that UK authorities have engineered a bizarre system whereby the HPA (Health Protection Agency) insists that every Lyme test, even those tests shown to be insensitive to Lyme, be sanctioned by a single microbiologist: Dr. Susan O’Connell.
According to Ria and Dennis, Dr. O’Connell refuses to accept that Late Stage Lyme Disease exists, and that treatment for this chronic condition is not warranted – she insists “it’s just post Lyme syndrome”. In a disturbing coincidence, Dr. O’Connell also happens to be a colleague of Dr. Gary Wormser, an IDSA member and a discredited 2006 IDSA Guidelines author.
After nearly a decade of being previously diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Addison’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and various endocrine system issues, Ria feels as though her journey through eventual proper diagnosis of Lyme disease in 2006 to Dr. Jemsek is like earning a Master’s degree. “I feel like I am finally going to graduate,” says Ria.
Lyme disease cases continue to rise in England and Wales
21 May, 2009 | By Clare Lomas
The number of reported cases of lyme disease in England and Wales has increased for the fifth year running, according to figures from the Health Protection Agency.
In 2008, there were 813 reported cases of the disease in England and Wales, a slight increase on the 794 cases reported in 2007.
The number of cases has risen steadily since 2003, when 292 cases were reported to the HPA. The agency said this is partly due to an increase in awareness of the disease, and improvements in the way cases are reported.
Lyme disease is contracted by being bitten by an infected tick, the main feeding hosts for which are small mammals, such as field mice and voles, and birds including blackbirds and pheasants.
Infections are more likely to occur during late spring, early summer and autumn, and many are contracted while people are participating in outdoor activities, such as mountain biking, trekking and camping.
The most common symptom of lyme disease is a slowly expanding rash which spreads out from a tick bite. Other symptoms include tiredness, headaches, and aches and pains in the muscles.
However, if the infection is not treated, more serious complications can occur, warned Mike Catchpole, deputy director of the HPA´s centre for infections.
`If the infection is untreated the bugs may spread in the bloodstream and to other parts of the body, including the nervous system, joints and other organs, and some patients may develop complications caused by tissue damage,´ he said.
`It is important that infections are recognised and treated at an early stage to avoid the risk of developing these more serious complications,´ he added.
North-east Lyme disease sufferer urges change to medical guidelines
woman who paid £10,000 for treatment calls for doctors to be more aware of condition
By Joanna Skailes
A north-east Lyme disease sufferer who has had to pay more than £10,000 for her treatment so far has urged medical practitioners to be more aware of the illness and change their approach to it.
Nicola Seal, who fought for appropriate treatment for around six months after falling ill following a tick bite on Rum in March last year, is calling for a change in guidelines for doctors.
The 35-year-old, who was eventually diagnosed with Lyme disease by a private specialist in Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, also called for more awareness among the public and urged people to check themselves regularly and painstakingly if they had been in a tick habitat such as the Highlands.
She said: “I was always very active and outdoorsy. I had lots of tick bites in the past but had never really thought about it. I had this one for about 24 hours before I found it and then fell ill about 10 days later. I had really bad stomach ache, sore knees, a stiff neck, headaches and felt really fluey.”
Doctors initially diagnosed Lyme disease in her nervous system but blood tests and other procedures came back negative. They said months later that it was either post-viral fatigue or psychiatric.
By the time she went to see the Lyme specialist, she could barely walk, could not stand without falling over, was unable to concentrate for more than a few minutes and had stopped driving.
Specialists prescribed a 12-week course of intravenous antibiotics. NHS Grampian funded the first four weeks, the maximum allowable under NHS guidelines, but Miss Seal had to fund the rest, as well as the oral antibiotics she now takes.
Miss Seal, of Fairview Circle in Aberdeen, said the chronic condition was now more manageable but that muscle weakness recurred about every four weeks.
The ecologist warned: “It is not the doctors’ fault, it is the guidelines but there should be some discretion in interpreting them.
“Late diagnoses, in a lot of people, causes irrevocable damage. Sufferers can be house-bound, wheelchair-bound and brain damaged and it can kill people. The consequences of catching Lyme disease can be really severe. It has turned my life upside down.”
The charity Lyme Disease Action is leading a campaign for new Europe-specific guidelines for the medical profession on the diagnosis and treatment of the disease rather than the current controversial American guidelines – which claim chronic Lyme disease does not exist.
For more information visit http://www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk
MP Oliver Letwin backs Lyme disease charity
3:10pm Thursday 4th June 2009
WEST Dorset MP Oliver Letwin has thrown his support behind a charity calling for wider recognition of Lyme disease.
Mr Letwin met with members from Lyme Disease Action, which is aiming to get better diagnosis and treatment for sufferers of the disease, after he was inspired by the story of Forston resident Gill Reese.
Mrs Reese, 60, was struck with Lyme disease in 1997 and is one of the founder members of Lyme Disease Action, She wants to make doctors more aware of the condition and wants to see the Government introduce national guidelines for treatment.
Mrs Reese said: “I became ill and the doctors thought I had meningitis, once they realised I hadn’t got meningitis they sent me home with no medical care.
“I quite literally had to find out what was wrong with myself and only found out through a newspaper article that gave me a clue.
“If it wasn’t for that I would probably be six feet under and Lyme Disease Action wouldn’t exist.” Mrs Reese was determined to help others who were going through what she experienced and, having helped to set Lyme Disease Action in 2003, decided to lobby Mr Letwin to back their campaign.
She said: “I went to see Mr Letwin as a constituent to tell him my story and he quickly realised this was just the tip of the iceberg and instead of just helping me he realised the entire Lyme Disease Action charity needed help.”
Mr Letwin met Lyme Disease Action representatives from across the South West and has agreed to fight its cause in Westminster.
Chairman of Lyme Disease Action Stephanie Woodcock said: “We are very grateful that Mr Letwin in West Dorset has been very supportive of our concerns.
“Our concerns are well founded as the Health Protection Agency has recently published new figures for Lyme disease and the cases for the South West are particularly high.
“Both Gill and myself have had the illness and have had to fight for treatment.
“We are aware that there are many other people fighting for the treatment and getting nowhere.”
Mr Letwin said: “The time is coming when we will get a definitive view about this problem and we need to ensure people who have this disease have effective diagnosis and treatment available.
“The current guidelines don’t seem to be allowing that.”
Doctors diagnose little Lewis with cureable condition
Published Date: 04 June 2009
By Kate Mason
A LITTLE boy could soon be on the road to recovery after doctors finally diagnosed the illness that could have caused his severe disabilities.
Lewis Jeynes’ parents have battled for three years for a diagnosis of the condition that transformed their normal toddler leaving him suffering seizures and unable to move or eat.
Hundreds of tests and hospital visits failed to pick up what was wrong and his devastated parents feared there was no hope of finding a cure for the mystery affliction.
Now Lewis, of Bessacarr, has finally been found to have a severe of Lyme disease, a rare but treatable condition transferred by ticks and mosquitos.
Lewis’ mum Samantha Tolmie thinks the little boy may have contracted the disease on a family holiday in the South of France.
“Lewis was ill for a few days after being bit but until now we’ve never made that connection,” she said.
Lewis had tested negative for the disease on two previous occasions but he was re-tested after well-wishers read about his plight.
“We had hundreds of people contacting us after reading about Lewis in the papers saying it often came up negative and to get him re-tested. I didn’t think anything would come of it but when we had the call to say he was positive I couldn’t believe it. I thought they’d tested the wrong person’s blood at first.
“I just can’t thank the people that contacted us to suggest this
If left untreated Lyme disease can affect joints, the heart and the nervous system.
Delighted Samantha,39, who gave up her job running her own clerical services company to care for her son, says specialists have now said he could make a full recovery. “It just doesn’t feel real. It’s like a dream I keep expecting to wake up, it’s a miracle to finally put a name to it and know that there is treatment out there.
“I never gave up hope I always held on to that and knew one day Lewis would get better.”
Despite his problems Lewis’ family say he is a “bubbly” and “happy” little boy who loves spending time with other children, including his 16-year-old brother Samuel, who also battles with ill health suffering from severe haemophilia.
Samantha said: “The last few years have been hard and sometimes you have days when you just feel like crying, but you just have to keep that hope.
“We have been told the treatment can be similar to chemotherapy in its effects so it’s going to be tough but we’re just taking one day at a time.”
Lewis is now waiting to find out when he will start an intensive course of IV antibiotics, which could last for up to three years and involve a drip for around two hours a day.
WESTERN GAZETTE (Dorset UK)
Thursday 4th June
*IN MY VIEW*
“*Bring the truth of Lyme Disease to light*”
by West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin
Last week I met representatives of the Lyme Disease Action Group in
Why, you may ask, is there a Lyme Disease Action Group?
The answer lies in the fact that people suffering from this ghastly
disease all too often find they are the victims of well-intentioned
Lyme disease is a horrible thing. It is conveyed by ticks and reduces
the sufferer to a terrible condition of lassitude and incapacity. For
this reason, I am told, it is often confused with ME sufferers of which
are similarly reduced in capacity and verve.
Lest anyone should think I am talking about something that is only
mildly annoying I should explain the reduction of capacities caused by
Lyme disease is sometimes enough to make a mockery of a person’s life.
This is a really serious disease. That much,everyone seems to agree.
Unfortunately that is where the agreement stops and the dispute starts.
Some doctors, supported by some research and with devoted patients and
ex-patients believe the disease can be treated effectively with large
and early doses of antibiotics.
The Health Protection Agency, on the other hand, takes the view that
this is hocus pocus: and as a result patients in many parts of the UK
are unable to obtain the treatment provided by those doctors.
What’s more, there is not even agreement about the diagnosis of the
disease. The form of diagnosis approved by the HPA does not always come
to the same conclusions as the form supported by the doctors who have an
opposing view of the disease and its treatment.
For the past 2 years or so, I have been involved in this medical and
scitentific wrangle because there are people in West Dorset who have
suffered from this disease and who have successfully diagnosed and
treated by what the HPA persists in regarding as unorthodox methods.
This is an interesting and important feature of the scene that when
these medical disputes occur there is no joy to be had by lobbying
ministers: no matter how many meetings you hold at Westminster and no
matter how many letters you write, you inevitable just get the answers
written for ministers by the HPA.
But I think we are now coming to a crunch point. We are, I think, going
to see some action from the General Medial Council: this may well
provide, at least, a location for this long-running guerilla warfare to
turn into a pitched and open battle between the competing medical views.
I hope for the sake of Lyme Disease sufferers in West Dorset and,
indeed, everywhere this open contest will bring the truth fully to light.
Sidbury Lyme disease sufferer’s call
Friday, June 12, 2009, 07:11
A DEVON woman suffering from symptoms of Lyme disease is campaigning for a change in the guidelines for its treatment.
Stella Huyshe-Shires, from Sidbury, believes she is still suffering from the symptoms of the disease, which she was diagnosed with in 2002.
The condition, which is caused by a bacteria transmitted by the bite of an infected tick, can occur if the body does not fight off the infection and the bacteria get into the central nervous system.
Mrs Huyshe-Shires, who is in her late 50s, suffers from a stiff neck and pain in her upper back, gets pains down the back of one leg, has swollen hands and finger joints, dry eyes and a dry mouth.
A former IT worker for the NHS, she has been retired on the grounds of ill health. Although Mrs Huyshe-Shires was treated, she believes she has not been properly cured — but cannot be treated further because of guidelines governing the use of antibiotics. She wants the Department of Health to establish clinical trials into the effect of long-term antibiotic treatment for the condition.
Mrs Huyshe-Shires says doctors in the UK follow the advice of the Health Protection Agency, which adheres to guidelines set by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. The guidelines state that patients should take antibiotics for no longer than 28 days.
As a member of Lyme Disease Action, Mrs Huyshe-Shires has lobbied MPs to change the rules.
The group’s campaign has the backing of South West MPs including Hugo Swire and Julia Goldsworthy, who last year raised an Early Day Motion to draw up UK guidelines for diagnosis and treatment.
Mrs Huyshe-Shires said: “I want to do something about it. I think it’s ludicrous I have to have a reduced life when I believe there is a cure.”
Mrs Huyshe-Shires believes the Department of Health should set UK guidelines for treating the condition. “We currently use the guidelines drawn up for the US,” she said. “In Europe, three different bacteria cause the disease, in the US, there is only one.”
A spokeswoman for the Health Protection Agency confirmed it gets its guidelines from the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
Dr Marina Morgan, a consultant microbiologist at the RD&E, said: “All antibiotics have potentially serious side effects, and to lessen the chance of breeding multi-resistant bacteria we only use antibiotics when absolutely necessary.
“But we should always treat the patient as an individual, weighing up the risks and benefits of therapy.”
“Air hostess’s career ended by insect bite”
07 July 2009
By Ruth Scammell
An air hostess has had to give up her dream job after a tiny insect bite gave her a devastating illness.
Amanda Beauvoisin loved her job which saw her fly all over the world.
But on a trip to Tobago two years ago her world was turned upside down when she was bitten by a tick.
The tiny insect bite infected her with lyme disease, which causes joint and muscle pains, headaches and tiredness.
A few days after she was bitten, one of Amanda’s legs went red and she began to feel unwell. She had to give up her job as the illness took hold, leaving her weak and often in pain.
Amanda, 22, of Wykeham Road, North End, Portsmouth, has been on antibiotics for two years and although the medication has stopped the disease spreading, it has not got rid of it.
Amanda survives on benefits and still lives at home with her parents.
She said: ‘I just feel so unlucky. All the crew were bitten – I was just unfortunate that I was the one who became ill.’
‘I don’t have a lot of money and I can’t pay for my car or my phone with my benefits. It’s so frustrating.’
She says her symptoms mean that she struggles to maintain a social life.
She said: ‘I had one glass of wine at Christmas and I was doubled over in pain. I can’t really go out clubbing with friends – I get tired so easily.’
Mum June Beauvoisin, 42, said: ‘I haven’t seen her so happy as when she was doing that job.
‘She was going out and enjoying herself, doing a job she loved.
‘But now, to see her not even be able to walk round to the corner shop – for a mum it’s heartbreaking.
‘I can’t physically do anything else to help her other than put a roof over her head.’
Amanda said she was now seeking private treatment because NHS doctors had refused her request to increase her medication.
But a spokesperson for Portsmouth PCT, which in charge of her treatment, said: ‘Lyme disease is nearly always treated by antibiotics, although there can be additional complications that may require other treatments.
‘Some patients may have a more persistent form of the disease.
‘We would anticipate that the clinicians working with the patient are best placed to make a clinical decision about a treatment regime.’
Lyme disease is an infection that derives from a tick bite.
The disease has a variety of symptoms, including changes affecting the skin, heart, joints and nervous system. It can lead to extreme tiredness. It is treated with antibiotics, which can eliminate the disease – but in severe cases the medication may only limit its effects.
A red spot can emerge around the location of the tick’s bite, which will gradually grow bigger, often with a pale area in the middle. These spots can also appear at other places on the body where the tick has not bitten. Some people get many red spots.
Usually one to four weeks will pass between the bite and the appearance of the spots.
Q&A: Will we get lyme disease?
A couple is worried about being bitten by the ticks that cause this condition
Dr Mark Porter
Q: How common is Lyme disease? We’re planning a walking holiday, but a number of friends say it’s a growing problem.
A: Although traditionally associated with remote places, the ticks that carry the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease — borrelia burgdorferi — are common in many parts of the UK, particularly those favoured by deer. Recognised hotspots include Exmoor, the Lake District, the Scottish Highlands, North York Moors, Thetford Forest, the South Downs, the New Forest and Richmond and Bushey parks in West London.
Ticks are particularly active at this time of year. But don’t be too worried — there are fewer than 1,000 confirmed cases a year in the UK, most ticks don’t carry the infection and serious repercussions are unusual.
Caught early, Lyme disease is relatively easy to treat, but this becomes complicated in more established cases and the infection can sometimes lead to permanent nerve, heart and joint damage if not picked up promptly.
* Tiny tick with a big bite
* Three stages of disease
* Going down to the woods? Wear socks
The ticks attach themselves to people walking through long grass or undergrowth and transfer the bacteria as they bite to feed. The first telltale sign of trouble is usually a spreading circular rash that typically comes on within three weeks of being bitten. Other symptoms include headache, aching joints and a flu-like illness.
If you get bitten, don’t panic. It’s thought that the tick has to be attached for at least 12 hours, and probably 48, to stand a good chance of passing on the infection. Remove the tick as soon as possible (using tweezers to grip the head rather than the body) and tell your GP if you develop the rash, or any of the other symptoms, within the next 30 days (the average incubation period is 7 to 10 days). The GP will be able to confirm the diagnosis from a blood test and treat you with antibiotics.
Some doctors prefer a one-off dose of an antibiotic called doxycycline to everyone bitten in an endemic area. Studies suggest that this is effective as long as the antibiotics are given within 72 hours of the bite. Walkers, cyclists and picnickers visiting at-risk areas should use insect-repellent, wear shoes, socks and long trousers, and check regularly for ticks. For more information, visit the Health Protection Agency website at http://www.hpa.org.uk.
The Oxford Eagle – Unsuspected tick kills Oxford man
Alyssa Schnugg • The Oxford Eagle • July 17, 2009
OXFORD — At 28 years old, Adan “Juancho” Quezada-Lopez was strong and healthy and looking forward to celebrating his daughter’s first birthday on July 8 with his wife, Autumn Lee Quezada-Grant.
But instead of it being a happy time for the couple, Autumn found herself having to say goodbye to her husband who died on July 9 from Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
A landscaper with the University of Mississippi, Adan started to run a 103 degree fever on June 29. The next day he went to the doctor who suspected Adan might have swine flu since Autumn had just recently returned from a trip to Mexico.
“By Wednesday (July 1), he couldn’t eat and he started having pain in his legs and terrible headaches,” Autumn Lee Quezada-Grant said. “We went back to the doctor on Thursday.”
Tests showed Adan’s platelet count was very low. He was given more antibiotics and anti-viral medications.
“Nothing was working,” Autumn said.
Autumn took her husband to the emergency room at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford on Saturday. A battery of tests were performed, but Adan’s illness was still a mystery.
By Sunday, Adan was in the intensive care unit. On Tuesday, his body was covered in a rash and Autumn alerted the attending physician.
“Once the doctor saw the rash, he said, ‘Rocky Mountain spotted fever’,” Autumn said.
After receiving the usual treatment for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, some of Adan’s symptoms improved. He was able to tell Autumn that one day after work a week prior, he had several ticks on him. Two swollen tick bites were found on Adan’s knee.
Adan died shortly after midnight. “He was so young and strong,” Autumn said.
Occurrences of Rocky Mountain spotted fever are rare in Mississippi. So far this year, five cases have been reported in the state. There were five cases in all of 2008.
Three cases of lyme disease – another tick-borne disease – have been reported in Mississippi since March, according to the Mississippi Department of Health.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a seasonal disease and occurs throughout the United States during the months of April through September, according to Christopher Cox with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The highest incidence rates have been found in North Carolina and Oklahoma,” Cox said. “Although this disease was first discovered and recognized in the Rocky Mountain area, relatively few cases are reported from that area today.”
Lyme Disease: A clear and present danger
Thanks for this article go to WENDY FOX, Chair of Borreliosis and Associated Diseases Awareness UK (BADA-UK), a charity promoting understanding and prevention of Lyme disease.
Before embarking on a trip, travellers obviously should take health protection into account. Many opt for vaccination against diseases, generally associated with travel abroad, but few realise there is an increasing threat within the British Isles, and one that is not vaccine preventable.
Tick-borne disease is increasing in the UK and Ireland. Ticks are the most common arthropod vector of disease and a hard tick (Ixodes species) usually causes infection in the UK. Ticks are most abundant in forested, heathland and moorland areas, but also in suburban parklands. Owing to several factors, including land management and climate changes, parasite numbers have increased and so has their distribution.
Borreliosis (also referred to as Lyme borreliosis or Lyme disease) is most prevalent tick-borne disease. Cases reported via a voluntary surveillance system have trebled in England and Wales since 2001. In Scotland (where the disease is notifiable) they have increased by a factor of eight.
The Health Protection Agency admits that data for reported cases are incomplete because information doesn’t include cases diagnosed and treated on the basis of clinical features, without laboratory tests. They estimate an additional 1,000-2,000 cases each year, with an annual total of approximately 3,000.
Cases in England and Wales are most frequently reported in Exmoor, the New Forest, the South Downs, parts of Wiltshire and Berkshire, Thetford Forest, the Lake District and the North York Moors. However, they have been reported from most counties and the HPA states that any area harbouring ticks may have the potential for borreliosis transmission.
Dr Darrel Ho-Yen, head of the national Lyme Disease Testing Service in Scotland, believes that the known number of proven cases should be multiplied by 10 “to take account of wrongly-diagnosed cases, tests giving false results, sufferers who weren’t tested, people who are infected but not showing symptoms, failures to notify and infected individuals who don’t consult a doctor”.
Borreliosis is caused by a spirochaetal bacterium of the Borrelia genus. Lyme disease is generally associated with Old Lyme, Connecticut, in the United States, acquiring its name after a cluster of cases of Borrelia burgdorferi infection was identified in 1974. Since then, other strains of Borrelia which can have different clinical presentations have been discovered in Europe.
Identifying an infection presents a problem for health care practitioners. There is only one sign specific to Borreliosis – an expanding rash (Erythema Migrans), generally occurring three-to-30 days after a tick bite. This rash doesn’t always occur and can vary in presentation (sometimes misdiagnosed as ringworm, cellulitis or allergic reaction). Of cases reported to the HPA in 2007, only one third had documented Erythema Migrans.
Early symptoms are non-specific and flu-like (tiredness, headaches, arthralgia and myalgia). In the following weeks or months more serious symptoms may appear in untreated patients, affecting the nervous system, joints and the heart or other tissues. Neuroborreliosis (infection of the nervous system) can cause facial palsy, viral-like meningitis, pain, weakness or altered sensation of limbs or trunk.
Lyme arthritis, usually affecting the knee, is more common with disease acquired in North America or some parts of Europe.
Too tiny to detect
Another diagnostic problem occurs when patients don’t recall a tick bite. Of the cases reported to the HPA in 2007, only 43 per cent reported a bite. Because of anaesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties in their saliva, ticks can bite and feed without discovery.
Nymphal ticks (the second stage in a tick’s life-cycle) are the most common cause of infection as they resemble a poppy seed and are seldom seen. Ticks prefer attaching to inaccessible places, like skin folds, armpits, groin, or under hair on the scalp. Body hair will often hide small ticks.
A two-tier system is employed in the UK. First, antibody screening tests are performed, followed by immunoblotting (western blotting) of reactive or equivocal samples. Such tests have limitations. Because an antibody response takes several weeks to develop, antibodies may be undetectable in the few weeks after infection. A second sample may then show sero-conversion. Sometimes those with more established infection can be seronegative.
Conversely, people may have antibodies to Borrelia bacteria without having a current infection (regular occupational or recreational exposure to tick bites) and other conditions (for example, glandular fever, syphilis, rheumatoid arthritis) can result in false positive reactions.
A cocktail of infection
Ticks in the UK can carry multiple infections including anaplasmosis, Q-fever, babesiosis and bartonellosis. Clinicians should be aware of the possibility of co-infections, which may cause cases of borreliosis to present atypically and influence treatment choice.
The threat to travellers abroad
Tick-borne diseases are a worldwide concern, with many diseases specific to certain areas. Lyme borreliosis is the most prevalent, being endemic to North America and Eurasia. Tick-borne relapsing fever is also caused by a species of Borrelia bacteria and found primarily in Africa, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Asia and certain areas in the western USA and Canada.
Other risks to travellers include:
* tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBE) – endemic in temperate regions of Europe and Asia
* tularemia (bacterial) – reported from all European countries except Great Britain, Iceland and Portugal. Endemic to the south east, south central and western USA
* Colorado tick fever (virus) – endemic to the western USA
* Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (virus) – endemic in Asia, eastern Europe and the Middle East, but especially common in east and west Africa
* Anaplasmosis (rickettsial) – endemic in the USA and Europe, but recently identified in China
* Rocky Mountain spotted fever (rickettsial) – diagnosed throughout the Americas. Some synonyms in other countries include “tick typhus”, “tobia fever” in Columbia, “São Paulo fever” or “febre maculosa” in Brazil and “fiebre manchada” in Mexico.
* Babesiosis (protozoal) – endemic in many regions of Europe and the USA
* Tick paralysis (toxins) – cases occur in the USA and Canada, Australia and Africa. Cases in Eurasia are sporadic.
Apart from vaccination (where applicable) the best defence is tick awareness. Using repellents and dressing to deter ticks getting under clothing is good policy. Regular body checks will identify ticks before or soon after they attach, minimising the risk of disease transmission which increases the longer the tick remains attached.
Correct removal of ticks is vitally important and should be performed using a tick-removal tool or fine-tipped tweezers, easily carried (with antiseptic wipes) in pockets or rucksacks. Freezing, burning or smothering a tick with any substances is likely to result in regurgitation of infective fluids. Detailed instructions on tick-removal techniques are available at: http://www.bada-uk.org (“Defence” section).
When evaluating a patient it is important for health care practitioners to be aware of places people have visited or intend visiting.
Journal Live – Lyme Disease warning for walkers and campers
Oct 7 2009 by Helen Rae, The Journal
PEOPLE walking or going camping are being warned to be on their guard after a dramatic increase in the number of suspected cases of Lyme disease.
Since 2003 the number of laboratory-confirmed cases in England and Wales have been rising, with 815 cases recorded by the Health Protection Agency last year. That includes almost 30 in the region.
And veterinary charity PDSA is urging pet owners to be on their guard after seeing a 150% increase in the number of suspected cases of the viral disease in pets, which can then affect owners too.
Dr Edmund Ong, consultant in infectious diseases at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Each year we see dozens of people in the region with Lyme disease.
“However, the UK does not have nearly as big as problem with the illness as America does – which sees up to 20,000 diagnoses of the disease each year – and I don’t see the condition spiraling out of control in the UK.
“Ticks can stay on a person’s body for up to two days so people need to check themselves after they have been out walking. If they do find a tick they must remove it, making sure the head of the tick is gone. That should be sufficient to avoid any risk of infection.”
Lyme disease is transmitted by a tick bite that carries the bacterium Borrelia burgdorfei. The most common symptom of Lyme disease is a slowly expanding rash, which spreads about five to 14 days after the sufferer is bitten by a tick.
Other symptoms can include fever, headache and fatigue.
Most cases can be treated with antibiotics, but if left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. In extreme cases it can cause paralysis, blindness and even death.
The majority of people bitten by a tick do not experience any symptoms. This could be because the tick is not infected, or because the infected person does not show any symptoms.
This latter group may never fall ill, however, some may become unwell several years later and so do not associate being bitten with feeling unwell. Elaine Pendlebury, senior veterinary surgeon with the North East’s PDSA, said: “There is no doubt we have seen an increase in the number of pets and their owners displaying symptoms of Lyme disease.
“There is currently a lack of awareness about the illness and people really need to understand that you can catch Lyme disease while out walking in the moors, woodlands or even a city park.
“Tick bites can be difficult to detect as they are relatively painless but symptoms of the infection can develop months, even years, after the bite.
“People need to cover up when walking, particularly in the countryside or park. You should wear long-sleeved tops and full-length trousers and after a walk a person should check their armpits, groin, belly button, neck and head for ticks.
“The number of people being diagnosed with Lyme disease in the UK has steadily risen over the past 10 years.”
MOTHER Ellie Marshall suffers from Lyme disease.
In 2002, the 48-year-old started suffering from a catalogue of horrendous symptoms, including excruciating chest pains, palpitations, dizziness, extreme fatigue and severe headaches.
But it was only at the beginning of last year that she was finally diagnosed with Lyme Disease after a private specialist ran a blood test.
Mrs Marshall, of Hexham, Northumberland, said: “I remember having a bite on my arm and I thought nothing of it until a few weeks later when I started to feel really weird. But I didn’t know anything about Lyme Disease back then.
“It does not surprise me at all that the number of cases of the illness is increasing. I actually think there will be many more cases than what has been recorded. People need to be aware of how serious a condition Lyme disease can be and ensure they protect themselves from getting bitten by a tick.”
New exhibit explores diseases
By Scarlett Lee
Published Wednesday, October 14, 2009
For people who have never picked a nose other than their own, two new exhibitions at the Peabody Museum will teach the curious visitor how properly to swab a nostril.
“Disease Detectives” and “Solving the Puzzle: Lyme Disease, West Nile Virus and You,” which opened to the public on Oct. 10, are intended to engage visitors through a combination of interactive exhibits and informative displays. Peabody educators said they hope that if people learn about diseases in a hands-on way, they will take away more from the exhibitions than if they had looked at panel displays.
Part of the new exhibit at the Peabody Museum, “Solving the Puzzle: Lyme Disease,” features local animals that pass on the disease, such as the deer.
“It is important for everyone in the community to know that while microbes are all around us, there are not that many that are pathogenic, and the community can play a role in controlling most infectious diseases,” said Terri Stern, one of the three people responsible for bringing the exhibitions to Yale.
Both exhibitions were funded through a Science Educator Partnership Award grant from the National Center for Research Resources, said Stern, an educator with the Peabody Fellows program, which aims to promote science literacy among elementary school-aged children. The School of Medicine’s Center for Clinical Investigation was also involved in the planning process, Stern said.
At “Disease Detectives,” a traveling exhibition from the Science Museum of Minnesota, visitors are introduced to three sick mannequins: Marcus, who has the flu; Adam, who has food poisoning; and Yolanda, who has malaria. Visitors can take the mannequins’ temperatures and pulse rate, as well as examine their stool and analyze blood samples.
The exhibition also provides visitors with hygiene tips. A red light flashes if people have not washed their hands for at least 20 seconds in an interactive sink. If visitors score high enough on a disease trivia game, they can hop around on the “Microbe Dance,” a Dance Dance Revolution-inspired game.
The second exhibition, “Solving the Puzzle,” was created by the Peabody’s entomology department with support from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. It intends to educate visitors about Lyme disease and West Nile virus, two common diseases in Connecticut. Grossly enlarged ticks and mosquitoes — which transmit Lyme disease and West Nile virus, respectively — sit on a display of fake skin. Visitors can also see live mosquito larvae squirm inside a tank.
People can also learn more about story of LYMErix, a Lyme disease vaccine created by Yale researchers in the late 1990s. Even though the Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine in December 1998, its manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, pulled it from the market in 2002, citing low sales.
Visitors said they were impressed by the exhibitions. Seth Craigo-Snell, who brought his two children and two of their friends to the exhibitions, said while he was not sure if they were picking up specific information about the diseases, they were having fun playing with the exhibits.
His 9-year-old son, Jacob, said he was having a great time learning about Lyme disease and West Nile virus.
“It teaches people a lot of about the kind of illnesses they can get,” he said.
“Disease Detectives” runs through Jan. 31, 2010, and “Solving the Puzzle” will be at the Peabody until April 18.
Tests Continue On Local Woodland
Mystery still surrounds the reason why a number of dogs fell ill or died shortly after visiting a part of local woodland.
Four dogs died and another fourteen were ill after they went to Haywood Oaks near Blidworth earlier this month.
Tests carried out by Natural England have ruled out chemical poisons such as strychnine and cyanide as the cause.
Further tests are now being carried out to identify any less commonly-occurring chemicals.
But, Natural England remain confident that the poison is naturally occurring, such as a disease carried by ticks or mites.
They’ve had no more reports of dogs falling ill or dying over the past week but still advise walkers to keep their dogs on a lead and in sight there.
Dad battles deadly tick bite illness after Lake District trip
10:20am Monday 26th October 2009
A FATHER-of-two is seriously ill with the potentially life-threatening Lyme Disease after being bitten by a blood-sucking parasite while in the Lake District.
Father of two, Kevin Slater, 48, was walking in Grisedale Valley, Patterdale, when he was bitten by a tick.
A tick is an arachnid that cuts through flesh with barbed teeth before inserting a needle-like feeding tube.
The disease has now developed into encephalitis – inflammation of the brain that can cause brain damage, blindness and even death.
Now, after receiving conflicting medical advice, Mr Slater is calling for a greater recognition of Lyme Disease among the UK medical profession, and that landowners erect warning signs in places known to house ticks carrying Lyme Disease.
Mr Slater noticed the parasite clinging to his calf while in the shower the day after the walk in August.
“It looked like a blood clot. I brushed it and it fell off.
“I picked it up and could see it had small legs. It was fully engorged – very round and filled with blood,” he said.
Aware not all ticks carry Lyme Disease, Mr Slater carried on as normal.
“Three days later I began to feel very odd. The first feeling was like motion sickness; light headed and giddy. Then there was a feeling of nausea,” he said.
Mr Slater, a self-employed engineering consultant from York, was in Germany and rang NHS Direct.
Back in the UK, he visited various doctors, becoming frustrated with their advice, which he felt was contradictory.
NHS director of public health for the North West, Professor John Ashton, said the UK was behind America in recognising Lyme Disease, but steps were now being taken to make people more aware of the dangers.
Mr Slater has been unable to work for eight weeks and is currently receiving antibiotic treatment from his specialist in Newcastle.
Ticks – the mini-vampires lurking in the countryside
By Peter Wedderburn UK Last updated: November 2nd, 2009
There’s a simple reason why there are unlikely to have been any victims of vampires over Halloween: there’s no such thing as a vampire. Despite the concerns of some Christian groups, Halloween is just a time of fantasies and fun, disowned as a serious event by those fringe groups who are seriously interested in matters of the occult.
But don’t get too relaxed – there is a real-life “mini vampire” that can cause serious health issues. At this time of year, there’s a surge in the population of ticks, those spider-like creatures that attach themselves to warm-blooded creatures to get the blood meal that they need to reproduce. Ticks lurk in woodlands and meadows, hiding in vegetation underfoot then throwing themselves at passing mammals, including farm animals, horses, dogs, cats and humans. They can be as small as pinheads when they crawl onto you, but can swell to the size of coffee beans as they fill up with blood.
Ticks cause major problems by transmitting blood-borne parasites in many countries, but in the UK’s temperate climate they’ve traditionally been regarded as just an irritating nuisance for pets and people. This view is now being challenged, and there’s increasing awareness of the threat of a bacterial disease that’s passed on by ticks – Lyme Disease. Humans, dogs and horses can be affected. Signs include include behavioural changes (e.g. depression, lethargy and lack of appetite), fever, swollen joints, and muscle stiffness. The disease can be easy to treat if caught in the early stages, by giving a three-week course of a particular antibiotic. One of the main problems is that it’s often not diagnosed until it’s become well established, when affected parts of the body (such as joints and nervous tissue) may already have been seriously damaged. Antibiotics can be effective at eradicating the Lyme Disease bacteria, but damaged organs can be slow to heal, and signs of Lyme Disease can linger for years, or even for life.
Not every tick is infected with Lyme Disease, and not every tick bite will transmit the disease, but the longer a tick is allowed to remain on its host, the more likely it is that Lyme Disease infection will result. It’s worth taking steps to avoid ticks, and to remove them as soon as possible if they do attach themselves to you or your pet.
How do you avoid ticks? Cover up bare skin below hip level when you’re walking in tick country, and apply preventive drops, sprays or collars to your pets.
And how do you remove ticks? Traditional methods should be avoided: if ticks are stabbed with lighted cigarettes, smothered with oil, or plucked out with fingers, they’re liable to regurgitate their stomach contents, injecting infection directly into their host. It’s far better to use fine-tipped tweezers to pluck them out without squeezing their bodies, or to use a specially designed tick removing tool, which does the job rapidly and efficiently.
Once you’ve done the job, don’t just throw the tick on the ground, or it may reattach to the next passing person or animal.Throw them into an open fire, flush them down the toilet, or place them in a sealed plastic bag before crushing them. Without opening the bag, dispose of it in an outside dustbin. Wash your hands with soap and water once you’re finished, to be double-sure that you’re not carrying any bacteria after handling the tick.
Most people don’t know about Lyme Disease until it’s too late, and they’re already a victim. There’s an excellent website that will tell you more if you want to know, but my main message is simple: ticks may look small and harmless, but thanks to Lyme Disease, they can pack a punch way about their weight.
Prince of Wales backs deer ‘tick mop’ plan (Dec 6, 2009)
The Prince of Wales is backing plans to use deer as “tick mops” in countryside frequented by walkers to curb the spread of Lyme disease, a deadly infection.
Prince Charles discussed the technique with researchers at the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Aberdeen, who are looking for an environmentally-friendly way to curb the soaring number of ticks.
The prince, who farms sheep and cattle at his organic Duchy Home Farm at Highgrove, Gloucestershire, has said he is concerned about Lyme disease but does not support the use of chemical pesticides.
The Aberdeen team is considering lacing deer with a natural pesticide; the creatures would be allowed to roam close to areas frequented by visitors or used by rural workers.
They believe such “tick mops” would not only reduce the number of parasites but would be a more humane way to tackle the disease than culling or fencing in the animals.
“It is encouraging that [Prince Charles] is taking an interest in the issue,” said Dr Lucy Gilbert, from the Macaulay Institute.
In the UK each year, some 3,000 people are infected by Lyme disease and about 60 die. Symptoms include a rash, fever, headache and fatigue. The infection can be treated with antibiotics.
I sold my jewels to stay alive
Published Date: 09 June 2009
By Rachel Mayfield
SPALDING mum Michelle Lawson has been forced to sell her jewellery and other possessions to pay for life-saving medical treatment.
The 41-year-old has the rare and potentially fatal Lyme disease, diagnosed after suffering symptoms including paralysis and lung infections for four years.
She picked-up the disease after being bitten by a tick as she trained for a charity walk.
Now Michelle is pinning her hopes on antibiotics not available on the NHS and has been to America, where a doctor has agreed to treat her after tests for the disease proved postive.
She says a trial on the new drug has helped her greatly, but it now costs her £400 a month to fund the treatment.
Michelle, who lives in Fleur Drive with partner Steve Stenhouse, sons Jake and George and step-daughter Sophie, hopes that in 18 months the drugs will have the disease in a “manageable” state, but there is no cure and she will have to continue the treatment until a cure can be found.
In the meantime, she is being forced to sell many of her cherished posessions. Michelle said: “I am taking aggressive antibiotics which I am having to get into my system slowly.
“I am having liver and blood tests monthly to make sure my body is tolerating it and that I’m not endangering myself, because they can affect major organs.
“I have the ongoing support of my family and friends and we are somehow affording to pay for the treatment at the moment by selling things.
“Apart from the monthly cost of the drugs, I’m having to go to America once a year, which costs £3,500 every time.
“We’ve sold the car and the caravan, and I sold a gold necklace I had for my 30th birthday. It had a lot of sentimental value but I needed the money.”
Michelle is improving slowly and is no longer in a wheelchair, but the disease affects different organs at different times.
She added: “I do feel better but it’s a living nightmare. I never know how I’m going to be affected. It’s a constant worry.
“Most people who die from the disease do so because it attacks their heart and it just stops.”
Lyme disease is caused by a tick bite and Michelle believes she was bitten while walking through fields training for a charity walk along the Great Wall of China.
She added: “Lyme Disease is bigger than AIDS in America now and the cases are rising in the UK too but it is still not a reportable illness in England. I have become a ‘professor’ of this disease. I have to get rid of it and therefore have had to become knowledgeable.
“Now I am stuck into the treatment I feel I am at a stage where I can say it’s hard but thank God it seems to be working.”
Bite from tick on holiday led to death leap (Apr 2008)
A woman fell to her death from her bedroom window after suffering paranoid delusions caused by an insect bite, an inquest heard yesterday.
Jan Linton, 56, was bitten by a tick while staying on a friend’s rural estate in France.
Within six months she was acting “very strangely” and claimed that the police were “out to get her”, Westminster coroner’s court was told.
It is believed that she had contracted Lyme disease, a tick-born illness that is notoriously hard to diagnose.
The infection – also known as borrelia or borreliosis – has a range of symptoms including changes to the skin, joints and heart.
In a small number of cases it spreads to the central nervous system, causing psychosis and delusions.
Miss Linton, who was unmarried, died instantly after falling three storeys from a window of her flat in West Brompton, west London, in January.
She had been bitten by the tick six months earlier while working on land owned by her friend of 20 years, Rhian Bradley.
Miss Linton, a “very active and independent lady” of private means, stayed in France until December, when she returned to London to seek medical help for debilitating joint pains which she thought could be related to the bite.
Her GP suspected that she had Lyme disease and sent her for tests. However, her mental state deteriorated rapidly.
She became exhausted from lack of sleep and began suffering delusions, said Miss Bradley, who shared the flat with her friend.
She told the inquest: “Jan began to have doubts and questioned the whole meaning of her life.
“She was a person of high integrity and high moral character so it was absolute mental torture to her to think that everything she had thought and believed she was about as a person was an illusion.”
Miss Bradley said that her friend, a surgeon’s daughter originally from Perth, Western Australia, feared that she would be considered “a nutter” and at one point believed police were in her house and “out to get her”.
Miss Bradley was so concerned for her friend’s health that she installed baby monitors to link their bedrooms.
On the morning of Jan 16, Miss Bradley said she heard what sounded like Miss Linton talking to herself followed by a thud. She ran into her friend’s room to find it empty.
“I knew what must have happened because the window was wide open,” said Miss Bradley.
The Westminster coroner, Dr Paul Knapman, said that Miss Linton was “clearly not herself” at the time of her death and her behaviour was “totally out of character”.
He recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.
An easily mistaken disease
Lyme disease – named after the town in Connecticut where it was discovered in 1975 – can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are easily mistaken for something else.
It is caused by a bacterium transmitted to humans from the bite of an infected tick.
Common symptoms include a circular red rash which spreads from the bite, along with a fever, headaches and fatigue. It can be treated with antibiotics but if left alone can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system, causing memory loss, sleep disturbance and mood swings.
There were 684 cases in England and Wales in 2006, though numbers are expected to increase because the tick population is rising.
BMJ 1999;319(7210) :649 (4 September), doi:
My years with Lyme disease
Chris J F Wilson
I first became unwell in the wake of some students sadly succumbing to the meningococcus. I had non-specific symptoms malaise, fatigue but with the photophobia, headache, and difficulty on my feet they were serious enough to warrant admission to the neurology ward for investigation. The investigations were thorough, but no cause was found.
A label of “depression” was hung around my neck
I was discharged back into the hands of a less than sympathetic university health service, and it was here that the mysterious spectrum of symptoms that graced my life earned me the title “malingerer, ” chiselled deeply into
my notes and even deeper into the clinical opinions of all those who saw me thereafter.
My aching joints were scrutinised by the rheumatologists. The neurologists put me under the inquisition again, trying to find some explanation for the interminable headache. Ultimately, as is often the case, I was directed to
the psychiatrists. A label of “depression” was hung around my neck, and I spent several months at a loose end, my studies on ice, convinced that I was not psychiatrically unwell, yet being swayed increasingly to the point of view that I was somatising.
A rather unhelpful faculty of medicine hindered my progress, and for a few years I let my body smoulder away gently, reluctant to grace a doctor’s surgery. A constant headache was my shadow, my joints protested, and I had strange things happening to my skin – things I ascribed to a bad mattress, poor posture, worn out running shoes, and a hot bedroom rather than anything else.
In the end it was easier to live with the symptoms rather than be ridiculed by those from whom I might seek advice. I learnt to accept the devastating effect that this malady was having on myself but most importantly on others.
Constant pain, feeling permanently hung over, being unable to stand properly, and soaking erstwhile sleep partners, courtesy of night sweats, did not augur well for relationships.
It seemed odd to me that the first time that a proper history was taken was when we knew the diagnosis. I had seen numerous specialists, but nobody had actually taken a full history; a point I had difficulty reconciling and even
greater difficulty putting across. I stumbled over the diagnosis myself just before sitting my finals.
Walking one day at Haworth, in a moment of serendipity, it all became rather clear. The topic of conversation was tick borne diseases and a profound dénouement took place. Yes, before becoming unwell I did recall the rather
pathognomic skin rash of Erythema chronicum migrans after climbing in Canada and Switzerland. Indeed I recollect the initial lesion very well. Out of curiosity I had mapped out its perimeter as it spread up my leg.
All that followed was easy to ascribe in retrospect to the spirochaetes and their passage through my body. When the serology came back I was delighted to find myself with Lyme disease. It was the greatest positive affirmation that I could have wished for. Soon after finals I underwent a rather unpleasant course of chemotherapy and then started in clinical practice.
The legacy of a decade of grumbling Lyme disease no doubt debilitated me physically. And the stigmatisation of a label and frank derision by doctors led to a gnawing psychological dimension.
Towards those who did not take me seriously I do not feel bitter. I pity them and hope that nobody else falls foul of them. To those at Bradford Royal Infirmary who took me seriously and gave me a chance to flourish I can never extend enough thanks. I extend similar thanks to the communicable disease directorate in Sheffield and to supportive friends.
Regarding the effect my illness has had on my own clinical practice, I hope that I can reach the zenith of equanimity and open-minded consultations that I might have benefited from. It was fortuitous to have discovered Lyme disease. I was not on any form of crusade.
It was luck that the discussion about Lyme took place and that I happened to be in the right profession. Above all, I am fortunate that its course has been relatively benign. My awareness of Lyme disease pre-dated my discovery by four years or so, and I did ask myself why I did not think of it earlier.
It was probably because I was not on a crusade. In any case I doubt if I would have been taken seriously.
Rare as Lyme disease is in the United Kingdom, I suppose there must be a small but significant population of those suffering from undiagnosed chronic Lyme disease, and I hope that they have sympathetic general practitioners
looking after them. A headache of sorts is my inseparable companion and from time to time reality, just like those ticks in 1987, bites.
Chris J F Wilson, surgeon lieutenant.
Thousands of French chipmunks carrying potentially fatal diseases ready to invade Britain
By Peter Allen
Last updated at 7:36 AM on 23rd July 2009
There are fears the chipmunks could bring potentially fatal diseases to Britain.
It may look cute and cuddly, but this little rodent is dangerous – and heading our way.
Thousands of chipmunks carrying potentially fatal diseases have been spreading west across Europe and have reached Paris.
Many carry ticks infected with the Borrelia bacterium that causes Lyme disease, a nerve illness that can disable and even kills victims if not treated early enough.
French experts warn that the animals, which can also carry rabies, could soon reach Calais and sneak aboard vehicles and vessels heading to Britain.
Officials have also warned tourists not to smuggle them into the UK as pets.
Some unscrupulous French pet shops are offering chipmunks for less than £10 each, despite repeated warnings of the danger.
Naturalist Guy Bruel said: ‘Everything is being done to control this rodent, but the public must be on its guard at all times.
‘There is a particular problem in the woods around Paris, attributed mainly to people who bought the animals as family pets and then got rid of them. This is just the type of behaviour that will lead to the chipmunk getting to Britain in huge numbers, possibly as early as this summer.’
Wildlife experts are pressing the French government to ban such sales.
Researcher Jean Louis Chapuis said: ‘They should not be up for sale. Lyme disease is a terrible condition, and the chipmunks are a major carrier.
‘These rodents are not shy, and in fact very approachable.’
Although everything has been done to control the Siberian chipmunk – Tamias sibiricus – in the UK, they spread very rapidly once established.
They were first imported from Asia in the 1970s and are now on the European Union’s list of 100 most-invasive species.
In 1980 17 chipmunks were released at a park in Brussels. They bred in the wild and in 20 years numbered nearly 20,000.
The number in northern France is currently estimated at more than 100,000.
With the British coastline just 22 miles away at the nearest point, the situation is becoming critical.
From The Times
February 8, 2010
Lyme disease: ‘I knew whatever was troubling me wasn’t a sports injury’
Surfer Alex Wade had to give up his beloved sport because of a degenerative spinal injury — then he got Lyme disease and his troubles really began
“There’s just one problem,” said Lou Pobereskin, the consultant neurosurgeon at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. “This damn Lyme disease.” The condition was not Pobereskin’s area of practice. I had been referred to him for cervical myelopathy, a degenerative narrowing of the spinal cord, which, at the age of 43, had suddenly made my life miserable. I couldn’t walk properly, suffered a convulsive juddering in my spine and was plagued by electric shock sensations in my neck and left arm.
At the same time, though, Lyme disease was diagnosed, a tick-borne infection common in rural parts of Britain. Lyme generally starts with a distinctive circular rash and goes on to cause flu-like symptoms, fatigue and, on occasion, neurological disorder. Its presence made for a medical conundrum: could the neurological symptoms afflicting me be a consequence of Lyme, rather than cervical myelopathy?
Anyone who has seen Under Our Skin, released in the US last summer and short-listed in this year’s Best Documentary Oscars category, may be tempted to lay the blame with Lyme. To watch this film is to be confronted by harrowing images of people who can barely stand up straight, let alone hold down jobs and live normal lives. The reason, according to the director Andy Abrahams Wilson, is that Lyme is not only a crippling illness but a hidden epidemic. Yet worse, the film alleges that in the US the medical establishment and the insurance industry are in collusion to prevent recognition of chronic Lyme disease.
I’ve had Lyme for more than seven months, but only now, after watching the film, have I started taking it seriously. In the interim I had to focus on what seemed far more threatening: a badly messed-up cervical spine.
To read more on this fascinating story check out:
Leanne learns to smile after disease horror
Newport woman is learning to smile again after a crippling disease, misdiagnosed several times, left half her face paralysed.
Leanne Upchurch, aged 38, who lives in Downfields, was diagnosed with Lyme disease last August after being bitten by a tic.
She is certain it was contracted locally while she was out running around Newport.
Leanne, who owns fitness business, Funky Monkey Fit, said her ordeal has been a living nightmare after her chemist, optician and a doctor all misdiagnosed her illness.
“This has all been, and still is, a nightmare for me,” said Leanne.
“I do feel let down my the NHS, but I don’t want to knock them. I just want people to realise the danger in late or mis-diagnosis
“I had to double my antibiotic medication but if I hadn’t pushed the Shrop Doc to look at my rash, and treat me for Lyme’s, I would have been none the wiser. Nobody seemed to really care, and I felt that nobody seemed to know too much about what I was to expect. “
Leanne’s worries started with an itchy rash and a small red spot on her lower back. Within a week she was suffering from intense headaches.
Flu-like symptoms later developed and she visited her doctor – where she was diagnosed with a viral infection and prescribed painkillers.
But after little more than a week, Leanne developed a painful swollen eye and consulted an optician – where she was told she had a sinus infection.
Major alarm bells rang when she started dribbling and woke one morning with the right side of her face completed paralysed.
Leanne added: “By this stage I thought that I was having a stroke, and was very scared.
“The Shrop Doc explained that I probably had Bells Palsy, and I should get a prescription for steroids.
“I was sent for blood tests and booked in for physiotherapy and I immediately started the medication.
“I did some research on the internet and it brought my attention to Lyme disease with pictures of rashes very similar to mine.
“I did everything I was told to do, and tried to make the best of a difficult and frightening situation. I couldn’t eat or drink properly, looked awful, and felt terrible.
“My disease is now under control. I am lucky enough to feel fit and healthy again.”
Woman was hospitalised twice in Lyme disease ordeal after tick bite
INVERNESS WIFE TELLS OF STROKE FEARS TO HIGHLIGHT BUG PREVENTION WEEK
By neil macphail
Press & Journal April 2010
ONCE BITTEN: Carol Robb, of Inverness, who was in hospital with Lyme disease. Sandy McCook
They are tiny creatures, barely visible to the naked eye, yet they have been responsible for laying low thousands of people.
They are the dreaded blood-sucking tick, and, as the weather warms up, they are starting to reappear in fields and forests throughout Scotland.
They sink their fangs into the skin and cling on, with many carrying in their bite the crippling Lyme disease bacteria.
Someone who knows from highly unpleasant, first-hand experience just what this tiny insect can do is Inverness woman Carol Robb, 37, who was bitten on her thigh two years ago in her garden at Drumblair Crescent.
She said yesterday : “I first noticed a slight rash, but didn’t realise I had been bitten. Over the next 10 days the rash grew and grew and my husband John said I should go to the doctor, who thought it was Lyme disease, and gave me antibiotics.”
But later the same day, Mrs Robb’s condition became dramatically worse.
She added: “I was watching TV when I developed pins and needles in my face. My whole face just drooped. I got up to tell John, but by the time I reached him I couldn’t walk properly and was paralysed down my right side.”
It was at first feared Mrs Robb had suffered a stroke and she was taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, but then Lyme disease was diagnosed and she started on a course of intravenous antibiotics for two weeks, followed by a further fortnight of pills.
Just as she was starting to improve, she suffered a relapse that put her back in hospital, then on a further four weeks of antibiotics.
Mrs Robb, the mother of Calum, 15, Aimee, 12, Erin, 8 and Niamh, 7, said there are deer in the woods behind their house, and they are notorious for carrying infected ticks that are then picked up by their dog and two cats.
Mrs Robb, formerly a childminder and now a part-time learning-support school worker, agreed to tell her story in support of Tick Prevention Week, which starts on Monday.
She said: “I am paranoid about searching for ticks now on the kids and the pets. The Highlands is a recognised place for catching Lyme disease, so everyone out and about, even at a barbecue or walking in the park, should take care.”
To reduce the risk of infection there is a tick repellent available, and wearing trousers and long-sleeved clothing will help protect exposed skin. Any found on the skin should be removed carefully.
Glenmore Lodge, Scotland’s outdoor training centre has donated £250 to help support Tick Prevention Week. More information about Lyme disease and tick week organisers, the charity BADA-UK, can be found at http://www.bada-uk.org.
Health: ‘One bite from this insignificant looking insect can lead to a disease that can take years to shake off’
Published Date: 25 May 2010
By Ruth Walker
SIX years after an innocent game in the Scottish countryside resulted in excruciating headaches, unbearable fatigue, gynaecological problems, tremors and even a fear that she might be dying, Janey Cringean is almost – ironically – out of the woods.
But along the way she has faced ignorance and disbelief from doctors and a Herculean battle to get the treatment that could cure her.
Cringean, a 48-year-old computer software consultant from Livingston, had Lyme disease, caused by a tiny tick bite she received while playing hide and seek with her niece and nephew in Beecraigs Park, West Lothian, in 2004. “A week later I got a spot on my hip and two days after that I woke up with the most awful vomiting that went on all day. It was endless. It felt like flu. I was really weak and shivering all the time.”
Within a few days she was feeling better, but the rash – the size of a small coin – didn’t budge. Her GP prescribed steroid creams and, when those didn’t work, it was frozen off by a dermatologist. However, it kept reappearing, with accompanying pain. “I developed a multitude of symptoms, including unbelievable headaches, and bad pelvic pain. A year later I was almost incapable of getting out of bed. There were quite a few times I’d be lying thinking, I wonder if this could be the night I die.”
This is Tick Awareness Week (24-30 May), the start of the time of year we are most likely to be bitten. And although the figures are relatively low, we shouldn’t dismiss the disease as irrelevant. Indeed, the rates of Lyme are significantly higher in Scotland than the rest of the UK, with positive test rates soaring from 86 in 2004 to 285 in 2008, the most recent available figures, though the number of actual cases could be much higher.
“It is a difficult disease to diagnose,” says Stella Huyshe-Shires, chairman of Lyme Disease Action. “It can look like a lot of rheumatic and neurological conditions and the blood test is not infallible. It’s also a disease very few doctors have been aware of so if they see typical symptoms they don’t recognise it.”
Caused by the bite of an infected tick – a brown/black eight-legged insect that can be no more than a tiny dot – it can be caught by anyone spending time outdoors, especially in long grass or woodland areas, from foresters and farmers to golfers, gardeners, walkers and orienteers. “I caught it in my garden,” says Huyshe-Shires.
“The tick attaches to you and, as it does, it injects an anaesthetic so you don’t feel the bite. You tend not to notice it for about 24 hours then the anaesthetic starts to wear off and you get a little itch.
“It’s a tiny little thing – it can be as small as a full stop on a page. You can take it off but must not cover it with oil, burn it with a cigarette or do anything to put it under stress or it might regurgitate its stomach contents into you, which is the last thing you need! Pull it out with a fine pair of tweezers or a tick removal tool, which you can get from any vet.”
At this stage, there’s no point in panicking because you may not be infected, but if you start seeing symptoms – anything from headaches, stiff neck and muscle pain to sensitivity to sound and light – you should go straight to your doctor. “You can get cold or hot and have sweats or a kind of facial palsy,” adds Huyshe-Shires. “You may get a rash, not necessarily at the site of the bite.”
The disease can be treated by antibiotics, but diagnosis often takes time. “In a lot of cases people have gone to their GP and they’ve said it can’t be Lyme disease because we don’t have it in this country,” says Huyshe-Shires. “I was three years before I was diagnosed.”
After repeated requests, Cringean was finally tested for Lyme, and though the results were negative, she was prescribed massive doses of antibiotics – twice the level for anthrax poisoning. Five weeks later, she started seeing an improvement. But the irony is that such a high dose of antibiotics could cause organ failure. “It’s terrifying,” she says. “I don’t know what the future holds.
“”I’ve been on antibiotics for more than three years. On the two attempts I made to come off I had such a severe return of symptoms it felt like falling off a cliff. So I’m terrified of coming off them, yet terrified of keeping on them. .”
As always, prevention is better than cure. Spray your trousers with a Deet-type product, says Huyshe-Shires. “And tuck your trousers into your socks, then keep away from long grass. Then be aware and check yourself afterwards. Brush off your clothes outside before you come indoors. Look for ticks in places like the groin and behind knees. They’ll go for a slightly protected place – they tend to crawl up – and with children, they can get up to the hairline.”
Country lovers (in Wales) given Lyme disease warning
Jun 28 2010 by Madeleine Brindley, Western Mail
WALKERS are being warned to take a series of simple precautions in a bid to prevent them contracting Lyme disease.
The incidence of Lyme disease, which is spread by infected ticks, has been steadily rising, but awareness remains low among the general public and employers.
It is thought climate change, coupled with an increasing deer population, is responsible for the spread of Lyme disease.
There were 18 confirmed cases of Lyme disease – Lyme borreliosis – in Welsh residents in 2008. Cases have trebled in England and Wales since 2001.
Elinor Bright, a third-year environmental health student, who has been researching awareness about Lyme disease, said: “There is a potential risk of anyone who goes out into the countryside getting bitten by a tick, but there are precautions people can take, like tucking their trousers into their socks or not wearing shorts when they go out walking.
“Not all ticks are infected but you can’t tell whether a tick has been infected or not, so you have to treat them all the same way.”
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by an organism called Borrelia burgdorferi, which is carried by some types of ticks. It was named after a cluster of cases in Old Lyme, Connecticut, in 1974.
It can cause a range of symptoms, the most common being a rash called erythema migrans, which has a distinctive bullseye pattern.
The rash can cover a large area and last for weeks if untreated. Some patients may also have flu-like symptoms.
The most common complications of untreated Lyme borreliosis affect the nervous system, usually within a few weeks to months of infection. They include facial palsy, viral-like meningitis and radiculitis, which is a nerve inflammation that can lead to pain, disturbance of sensation or clumsiness of movement.
Ticks acquire the bacteria when they feed on birds or mammals that carry the organism in their blood. Although deer do not carry Lyme disease they help to maintain tick populations because they are important feeding hosts for adult ticks.
The Health Protection Agency said: “Ticks can be found in forests, heaths, moorland areas and in suburban parkland.
“Any area, large or small, in which ticks are present should be regarded as having a potential risk of Lyme disease.
“In recent years, according to HPA figures, there have been around 800 laboratory-confirmed cases reported annually in patients from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 cases a year in total – this includes cases that are diagnosed without the need for laboratory tests and cases that are so mild that people do not feel the need to consult a doctor.
“The majority of Lyme disease cases reported in the UK are acquired here rather than overseas, often through recreational activities including walking, trekking and mountain-biking.”
The New Forest, Exmoor, other woodland or heathland areas of southern and south-western England, the Lake District, the Scottish Highlands and Islands, North York moors, Thetford Forest and the South Downs are considered to be at-risk areas.
But cases of Lyme disease have also been linked to parts of Wales, such as Snowdonia.
Miss Bright, who has developed a leaflet and poster to highlight the risks and has based her dissertation on Lyme disease, said: “The precautions you can take to stop you getting bitten are so simple.
“We don’t want to discourage people from going outdoors but we do want people to be aware of the risk – the posters tell people how to remove ticks, if they see them, and if they get symptoms to go to their GP.”
There are two common forms of disease spread by ticks in Europe – Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis – both of which are on the rise.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said the number of reported tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) cases has increased in Europe in the past two decades.
The mean number of TBE infections in Europe excluding Russia between 1990 and 2007 was 2,805 cases per year, up 193% from a mean of 1,452 cases per year between 1976 and 1989.
Elinor Bright’s leaflet about Lyme disease contains the following advice for preventing tick bites:
Keep your arms and legs covered;
Try and stick to walkways and pathways;
Check your skin and clothes for ticks;
Wear light-coloured clothing to make the ticks easier to see;
Remove ticks properly using either tweezers or a tick remover, which are available from veterinary clinics or pet shops.
Sheep decline ‘raises tick risk’ says NFUS
Monday, 28 June 2010 10:08 UK
Sheep NFUS has warned farming in some areas is in decline
A decline in the sheep industry has led to an increase in harmful ticks, the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland (NFUS) has warned.
Lyme disease, an infection that can cause arthritis if untreated, can be transmitted to humans through a tick bite.
The NFUS said sheep act as a “mop” as ticks attach themselves to the animals as they graze.
Sheep also keep down long grass which ticks use to reach anything passing by.
Robert Macdonald, who farms near Grantown-on-Spey and is NFUS Highland branch vice-chairman, said there has been a definite increase in the pest.
He said: “I put it down to there being less stock on the ground now.
“Because of that, there is more rank growth and this gives cover for the ticks. Deer also come in and they shed ticks into that growth.”
Mr Macdonald knows two farmers infected with Lyme disease.
He said: “For one of them it has really affected his life.
“He had to get rid of his stock because he wasn’t fit to look after them once he took Lyme disease.”
In May, the NFUS warned that traditional sheep farms in upland areas and on crofts would not survive without the support of European subsidies.
NFUS head of rural policy Jonnie Hall said livestock production in hill areas was already in decline.
He said the EU single farm payment scheme was due for reform in 2013 and that he hoped its replacement would be focused on helping productivity.
Mr Hall was giving evidence to a rural affairs and environment inquiry.
He told the inquiry in the Scottish Parliament that “spiralling costs” for feed, fuel, fertiliser and labour had almost cancelled out any benefits from improved market prices for cattle and sheep.
Have you ever been attacked by a tick?
By Pete Wedderburn Health and lifestyle Last updated: May 13th, 2010
Ticks can affect pets and humans
Late spring, early summer and autumn are peak times for tick bites, coinciding with the warmer weather which encourages people and pets to venture into the great outdoors. Tick bites may seem like a harmless nuisance, but in recent years, it’s been recognised that they represent a serious health risk.
Ness Kelly, will never forget the consequences of being bitten by a tick two years ago: she subsequently became seriously ill with Lyme Disease, a condition that can affect humans, dogs and horses.
Ticks are found all over the United Kingdom, living mostly in woodland and meadows, but they can also be seen on dogs that are only exercised in urban areas. Young ticks wait in vegetation underfoot, grabbing onto any passing mammal, including farm animals, horses, dogs, cats, and humans. They can be as tiny as pinheads when they crawl onto you, although they grow to be as big as coffee beans as they fill up with blood.
Ness first became ill in July 2008. The problem started with severe sciatica, caused by a swollen hip. Within a few days, all of her large joints were swollen, including her knees, elbows and shoulders. As the disease progressed, she was confined to bed, unable to move because of the discomfort.
Doctors and specialists initially believed that she had a type of viral arthritis, but when a blood test for Lyme Disease was carried out, it came back as positive. She was started on treatment – a specific antibiotic – but despite this, the bacteria began to invade her nervous system. Her eyes were painful, her vision deteriorated, and she had buzzing in her ears with extreme fatigue. She continued the antibiotics, and she also attended a Kenesiologist, to improve her mobility. She’s gradually improved, but it’s taken nearly two years for her to fully recover.
Not every tick is infected with Lyme Disease, and not every tick bite will transmit the disease, but the longer a tick is allowed to remain on an animal or a human, the more likely it is that the illness will be passed on.
It’s worth taking steps to prevent ticks from attaching to yourself, as well as your pets. If you’re walking in potentially tick-infested areas, wear protective clothing (e.g. a long sleeved shirt and long trousers tucked into socks). Light coloured fabrics are useful, as it’s easier to see ticks against a light background. You should consider using insect repellents, e.g. DEET-containing preparations, and it makes sense to inspect your skin regularly, removing any attached ticks.
As far as pets are concerned, use anti-tick preventive treatment if you’ve seen ticks in the past. Spot-on products as well as anti-tick collars are often used, but ask your vet about the most effective product in your area. Custom-designed tick pullers are the safest way to remove ticks: the O’Tom Tick Twister is one of the best, available from vets, as well as online. Traditional tick removing methods – such as lighted cigarettes, smothering with oil, or even just pulling them out with your fingers – can cause the ticks to regurgitate blood into you before they detach, increasing the risk of infection. Once removed, ticks need to be disposed of safely. Throw them in an open fire, flush them down the toilet, or place them in a sealed plastic bag before crushing them. Without opening the bag, dispose of it in an outside dustbin. Wash your hands with soap and water once you’re finished, to be double-sure that you’re not carrying any bacteria after handling the tick.
I’ve blogged about Lyme Disease before, and I’ve had lengthy comments from people who’ve suffered from the condition: they have a huge amount of concern about under-diagnosis of this disease, with many patients not being diagnosed, despite classical symptoms, until their body has been too badly damaged for treatment to be fully effective. It seems that in the UK, we’re far too casual about the risk of contact with ticks; in other European countries, there’s a much higher level of awareness of the disease threat.
Well, if you’ve read this blog, you’re that little bit more aware now. Please spread the word.
Lyme disease alert to Lake District walkers
24 July 2010 Last updated at 13:02 GMT (BBC Cumbria)
Walkers in the Lake District are being warned to take precautions against a tick-borne infection.
Mountain bikers and pets can also be at risk of Lyme disease, which is spread by tick bites.
The tiny bugs live in long grass and bracken, and are especially common where sheep, deer or cows are present.
South Lakeland District Council advises people to wear long sleeves and trousers and to check skin and clothes for ticks at the end of a walk.
An infected bite can take between two days and four weeks to show and anyone who has been bitten should look for a “bulls eye” type red rash appearing around the bite.
In extreme cases Lyme disease can cause nerve damage, paralysis and blindness.
Tom McCormick, environmental protection officer with the council, said: “We are concerned that many people who enjoy walking and mountain biking in the Lake District, may not be aware of the risks from tick bites.
“This is a case of prevention being better than cure and everybody who enjoys the outdoors should take preventive measures to avoid being bitten.”
Health notes: Give bites a good ticking off
By Sarah Stacey
Last updated at 8:01 PM on 3rd July 2010
Bites from infected ticks can lead to a potentially chronic, life-limiting condition called Lyme disease, or borreliosis. Worryingly, it seems some GPs don’t recognise telltale early signs of this increasingly common problem, as this report by a colleague shows.
‘In 2008, two days after camping in the New Forest, my son Tim, then seven, complained of an itchy bite on his leg. The only visible mark was a small pink bump, which we treated with antihistamine ointment. This soothed the irritation, but the bump remained.
‘Ten days later, the mark became larger and darker and a red ring appeared around it, so my wife Jane took Tim to our GP practice. The locum GP said it was just a strong reaction to a normal insect bite, and prescribed high-strength antihistamine syrup. Within a few days, the rash and itchiness on his leg had almost disappeared and, although Tim – untypically – complained of feeling tired during the day, we blamed a summer cold.
‘Two weeks later on the Isle of Mull, Tim complained of pains “inside” his thumb and knee joints as well as the tiredness. Then, after a country walk, I noticed a sort of scab on his upper lip. It turned out to be a tick – firmly attached – which I carefully removed with tweezers. I found another embedded in the crook of my arm.
‘Advice at the health centre on Mull was very different. Tick bites are an everyday hazard there (as in many other rural places). The pinhead-sized ticks climb up long grass, attach themselves to a passing animal and feed on its blood, swelling to several times their usual size. Some ticks carry bacteria called borrelia, which are passed to the host. Although harmless to animals, borrelia can infect human hosts with borreliosis which, if left untreated, can cause an ME-like illness, arthritic joints and heart rhythm problems, or disturb the central nervous system (like meningitis).
‘The ticks that caused our bites weren’t engorged (so probably hadn’t started feeding), but I was advised to monitor the bites for changes, especially one of the earliest signs of infection – a red ring surrounding the site (like Tim’s when he was first bitten), which usually develops over a few days. Flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, are another sign; joint pains suggest more advanced infection. For the first time, I understood the probable cause of Tim’s original problems.
‘Back in London, our usual GP prescribed a one-week course of strong antibiotics. Thankfully, Tim’s symptoms cleared swiftly. He was lucky (and my bite didn’t develop further), but it’s essential that doctors and families are aware of the possible consequences of these tiny bites.’
* Ticks are mostly active from April to October in shady grass, bracken, bushes or leaf litter in areas frequented by host animals (even in London deer parks). Stick to well-trodden paths, preferably with shorter grass.
* Wear boots or shoes (not sandals), long trousers tucked into socks, and long-sleeved tops in a pale colour so that the ticks show up: they look like a speck of soot, a pinhead-sized dark spot or a small spider.
* After walking, sitting on logs or leaning against tree trunks, check for ticks in warm spots such as armpits, groin, navel, neck and scalp.
* If you find a tick, don rubber or latex gloves and use a tick removal tool (from £4.99, from lymediseaseaction.org.uk) or sterilised tweezers to pull it away. If the tick is engorged, try to avoid squeezing its body as this can cause infection. If possible, keep the removed tick in a container for research, noting where and when it was found. Clean tools with antiseptic and wash hands thoroughly.
* If you’ve been bitten by a tick, and especially if you have the ‘bull’s-eye’ rash, see your GP immediately. If they’re unfamiliar with the implications, insist that they seek further advice.
* A testing kit is now available which can identify whether the tick that caused the bite is infected with borrelia. Care Plus Tick Test, £9.99, from stopthetick.co.uk.
Mum hitting the road for her son’s helpers
Published Date: 07 July 2010
DONCASTER mum Samantha Tolmie is strapping on her running shoes for a charity which has been helping her disabled son.
Little Lewis Jeynes, aged six, was thought to have a rare illness known as Lyme disease, a rare but treatable condition transferred by ticks and mosquitos.
But doctors are now not certain and he is due to have further tests later this year to find a diagnosis for the condition that transformed him from a normal toddler into a child suffering seizures and unable to move or eat.
He is currently on a treatment of antibiotics which his family believe has helped his condition. He is now able to hold his head up.
Samantha said: “We have seen improvements through the treatment.”
But over the last three years, Lewis has been receiving help from a charity called SpecialEffect, and Samantha is running the The London British 10K race on Sunday to raise money for it. She will be joined by pal Tina Wright, from Balby.
Lewis developed normally until he was aged two years old when he started to degenerate physically.
SpecialEffect have helped to improve Lewis’ quality of life with a computer system he can control by moving just his eyes to communicate, learn and play games.
Lewis’ school, Heatherwood in Intake, bought a system for him to use while at school and SpecialEffect lend him a system for leisure, games, music and creativity at home, as well as provide support and new adapted games for Lewis and his family.
Samantha, aged 41, from Bessacarr, gave up her job running a clerical services company to care for her son.
Despite his problems Lewis’ family say he is a “bubbly” and “happy” little boy who loves spending time with other children.
Log onto http://www.justgiving.com/samantha-and-tina-london10 to sponsor the pair, or donate at Fitness First in Balby.
Tick”em off your list
Southern Reporter (Scotland)
Published Date: 04 August 2010
By Sally Gillespie
KEEN canoeist and holder of a mountain climbing record is on a mission to warn other outdoors enthusiasts about Lyme disease.
The debilitating tick-borne illness blighted his life for almost three years as medics struggled to diagnose the changing symptoms.
Former KOSB army instructor from Lilliesleaf, Allan Mitchell, said: “I had always been as fit as a flea. I’m the kind of person who shrugs things off. I thought it would go away, but it never did, it came back.”
The father-of-five has had to fight for his life with viral meningitis, a symptom of Lyme disease.
“I thought it was just a headache. I was rushed to hospital and given a lumbar puncture. I was very, very unwell for a few days,” he told TheSouthern.
He was later rushed to hospital with oxygen levels in his blood lower than people with the lung disease COPD.
“I was quite seriously ill. When the oxygen in your blood drops, your blood goes acidic, which causes a lot of pain in your muscles.”
But most worrying was not knowing what was wrong with him, said the 45-year-old.
“My wife thought I was going to die. I had periods of generally being all right. It can affect you mentally. You can see how some people are driven off the edge.”
This from the man who climbed Ben Nevis 20 times (nearly 21 – he was just yards from the top when bad weather forced him back) in a week in 2005 to gain the Guinness world record for the most feet ascended and descended on a mountain in one week.
He remembers the tick bite which gave him Lyme disease nearly three years ago.
“It quickly became red and swollen with a strange rash.”
The symptoms – sleeplessness, fever, hot joints, muscle spasms – kept recurring, but each time doctors said it was a virus and likely to go. Tests showed the spasms, cramps, muscle twitching, tinitis and other symptoms were not from a neurological disease.
Next he got meningitis and recovered. A second neurological opinion said the “benign muscle twitching” would go in time.
A week later, he couldn’t breathe during the night and was rushed to hospital. It was then that the low blood oxygen levels were identified. But doctors remained puzzled as to the cause of the problem.
“At this stage I really thought I was going off my head and was in total despair, wondering what was wrong with me,” he said.
It was then that he saw Dr Jeff Cullen at Selkirk hospital, who suggested testing for Lyme disease.
Even post-diagnosis, it has been a fight. Although the antibiotics worked initially, he has had two relapses. The second time he was put on an IV drip of strong drugs to try to kill the Lyme bacteria, during which he passed out.
“My whole aim is to get the message across about tick bites and tick-borne illnesses. I know of at least four cases locally and two of them are children.”
He urges people not to wear shorts or sandals in country where there could be ticks. Tuck trousers in, wear light-coloured clothing so you can spot a tick easily, and use an insect repellent that includes at least 25 per cent DEET. Use fine-nosed tweezers or a proper tick-removing tool, available from chemists, to remove them.
He warns against burning them or putting Vaseline on them as this can cause them to burst and release the infection into your bloodstream.
Allan is giving free talks to organisations and will be a guest speaker at the National Scottish Canoe Exhibition. Contact him on email@example.com
Former Perth football star tackles radical cure
“I go to my parents every night for my tea – they cut up my food as my hands just shake too much.”
Aug 13 2010 by Denis Brown, Perthshire Advertiser Friday
A FORMER Perth footballer hopes to tackle his degenerative disease with radical new surgery being trialled in Glasgow.
Bridge of Earn resident Iain Kerr was only 25 and a promising midfielder with Bankfoot Juniors when struck down with a mysterious medical condition in 2001.
The first signs of symptoms that would ultimately force him to take early retirement from his roads technician job with Perth and Kinross Council in 2009 emerged during a football game.
“I remember running down the pitch when the ball was passed to me,” he said.
“I half turned, looked over my shoulder and saw two balls coming towards me – I didn’t know what ball to go for.
“After that I went to see an optician who told me I had a latent squint and there was nothing he could really do for me.”
But when the symptoms got more debilitating, a scan at PRI revealed legions on his brain, leading to Mr Kerr – a schoolboy player with St Johnstone – being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Bankfoot JFC chairman Robin ‘Woody’ Wood said the club community were devastated when hearing the news.
“Kerrso was good player, a clever player, always a great club man, loyal, a really nice kid,” he said.
“His illness was a shock to everyone here, especially how quickly it unfolded.
“All of a sudden he seemed to get weaker, couldn’t last a full game and we’d have to take him off – it was real mystery.”
Next month, Woody will MC a donkey derby – with former and current Bankfoot players in attendance – to raise funds for their former teammate’s surgery in Glasgow.
“I’m hoping the light is now at the end of the tunnel and my dream is that one day soon I’ll be able to kick a football again,” said Mr Kerr.
“I’ve got much worse in the past couple years. I’m now registered blind, my balance is really bad, especially on my right-hand side, and I can no longer write.
“I go to my parents every night for my tea – they cut up my food as my hands just shake too much.”
Now 35, he believes he was misdiagnosed with MS and that his illness was actually caused by the notoriously difficult to diagnose lyme disease, contracted by a tick bite in 1999.
Symptoms usually start with a rash, followed by a fever, fatigue, muscle aches, and headaches. A bite can also lead to more severe symptoms, such as facial palsy, chronic joint and heart problems.
Although he recalls an itchy rash after being bitten by the tick, it was not until consulting an alternative therapist in 2006 that the connection was made.
“This disease caused my jugular vein to narrow and it’s so constricted that blood doesn’t flow through to my brain, which is why I have brain legions or scarring.”
After recent testing at the Essential Health Clinic in Glasgow, he is now among other ‘guinea pig’ patients scheduled to undergo an operation that has reportedly had positive results in the US and Europe.
“They’ll inject me in the groin and insert this little balloon that will be positioned on my jugular vein. Once expanded it will permit blood flow to my brain, and hopefully I will get better.”
The operation costs £5500, so in addition to the donkey derby, other fundraisers include a sponsored cycle from Portree to Bridge of Earn by five riders, including life-long pals Brian Teven and Craig Christie.
Despite his problems, Mr Kerr remains positive, hopeful of a cure and retains his sense of humour.
Unable to watch the 2010 World Cup as his vision is now a blur, he said he was not too upset.
“Scotland weren’t there so I wasn’t too bothered to be honest,” he said.
lEveryone welcome at the donkey derby, Tulloch Institute, Saturday, September 4 (2010), at 7.30pm.
BBC’s Pearce Recovering From Lyme Disease
Sun Aug 8th 2010
BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce contracted Lyme Disease during his time in South Africa for the World Cup.
The veteran broadcaster broke the news on his Twitter account earlier this week ”Bit of bad news. Contracted lyme disease in South Africa, a tick borne paralisis. Now clearing up it seems but scary for a week or two.”
There have been no further updates on this story by the media or from Pearce himself. Pearce covered 15 World Cup matches over the summer, including the 3rd place game between Germany and Uruguay.
East Yorkshire Lyme Disease sufferer Kevin Slater hoping to raise awareness
8:59am Friday 13th August 2010
* By Mike Laycock »
A FATHER-OF-TWO from East Yorkshire has told how he is still suffering a range of horrendous symptoms from Lyme Disease – 12 months after being bitten by a tick while walking in the Lake District.
Kevin Slater, 49, has spoken out in a bid to increase awareness of the illness, both amongst the general public and medical professionals in the UK.
“The effects of this disease are so horrendous that I made a promise to raise as much awareness as possible to try to prevent other people, especially children, from becoming infected,” he said, claiming there was a severe lack of knowledge and understanding within the NHS of the disease and appropriate methods of treatment.
“It is crucially important that early treatment with aggressive antibiotics is given to stop the spread and eradicate the bacteria in the early stages.
“There should be public warnings about Lyme Disease in parks and open spaces so that people can take measures to protect themselves.
“We often see public notices in doctors surgeries warning about the dangers of disease such as malaria should we travel abroad. However, there is nothing mentioned about Lyme Disease, which exists in our own country.”
The Press reported last autumn how Mr Slater, a self-employed engineering consultant from near Pocklington, was bitten by a tick, an arachnid that cuts through flesh with barbed teeth before inserting a needle-like feeding tube, when he was walking in Grisedale Valley, Patterdale, during last August, probably while he was walking through a patch of bracken.
His illness developed into encephalitis -inflammation of the brain that can cause brain damage, blindness and even death.
He said today that over the past year, his symptoms had included fatigue, low grade fevers, swollen glands, stiff neck, myalgia, chest and abdominal pain, sleep disturbance, poor concentration, depression, back pain, blurred vision, tinnitus, headaches and dizziness.
How to avoid getting Lyme Disease
KEVIN Slater advised people to avoid being bitten by ticks by:
• Keeping to paths and avoiding walking in long grass or overhanging areas of fern
• Wearing long trousers and tuck trousers into socks, and long sleeve shirts
• Checking for ticks during and after walks in areas which may possibly be inhabited by ticks
• Shaking clothing outdoors when returning home
• Removing tick with tick remover or tweezers if bitten, ensuring mouthparts are not left in skin
Warning as ticks carry disease south
Published Date: 13 March 2011
By Kate Foster
DOCTORS are warning that debilitating tick-borne Lyme disease appears to be moving from its traditional Highland heartlands and spiralling in other parts of the country.
A public health investigation revealed that cases of the infection had soared in Tayside over the last five years.
The area has now been classified as a “hotspot” for the infection for the first time, with the spread prompting concern that tick infestation of the countryside is moving south.
The doctors who carried out the investigation have urged visitors to the area to take precautions against tick bites. Campaigners warned all Scots to be vigilant, saying the parasites are a disease risk everywhere, from remote moorland to urban gardens.
The Scottish Highlands have long been known as a problem area for blood-sucking ticks, which lurk in long grass and attach themselves to animals and humans. The ticks – which cling on to their host as they feed, are difficult to spot and to remove. A bite carries the risk of infection with Lyme disease – officially known as Lyme borreliosis – which can cause serious neurological and heart problems.
But the investigation by the public health team from Ninewells Hospital in Dundee and Raigmore Hospital in Inverness – published in the Journal Of The Royal College Of Physicians Edinburgh – has revealed a “significant” rise in cases of Lyme disease in Tayside. Cases in the area, which are thought to have originated in the region’s large forested areas, rose from just five in 2005 to 67 in 2010.
• Case study: Diagnosed after two-year illness
Most of cases were caught in the early stages, but around a quarter had neurological symptoms, which can include meningitis, palsy and encephalitis.
Dr Darrel Ho-Yen, head of Scotland’s National Lyme borreliosis Testing Laboratory and a member of the investigation team, admitted experts were surprised by the findings.
He said: “We know that the Highlands are a hotspot for ticks because we have more sheep and deer there, so we expect the number of cases of Lyme disease to be high there. What is important is that previously Tayside was not identified as a hotspot for Lyme infection.”
The research also compared rates of the disease in Highland, Tayside and the rest of Scotland per 100,000 population. Between 2005 and 2010, rates rose from around 28 to 56 in Highland, from around two to 17 in Tayside and from just one to around six for the rest of Scotland.
The researchers say that while Tayside’s infection rate is lower than that of the Highlands, its year-on-year increases are becoming proportionally much larger. It is not known where in Tayside the ticks were picked up, but likely areas include rural parts of Angus and Perth and Kinross.
The ticks that carry Lyme borreliosis usually feed off birds, deer and sheep. Not all ticks are infected but for anyone bitten by an infected tick, symptoms include a target-like rash.
Early treatment with antibiotics is usually successful, but if left untreated symptoms include fatigue and depression, and joint aches and pains. Some patients have long-term disabling symptoms.
The reasons behind the rise in Lyme disease in Scotland are thought to include the changing climate, changes in farming practices leading to more of the ticks’ natural bracken habitat, and an increase in the deer population.
But campaigners warn that it’s not just forested areas that pose a risk. Wendy Fox, chair of the tick-awareness charity Borreliosis and Associated Diseases UK, said: “Some areas are considered highly endemic but you can pick up Lyme disease anywhere. People with overgrown gardens in urban areas can be bitten, and we are seeing more cases of urban acquired infection.
“The worry is if you start talking about hotspots and someone has been bitten, their GP might not think of Lyme disease because the patient has not visited a hotspot.
“We don’t want to put people off outdoor pursuits, we just want them to be safe while they are doing it.”
Case study: Diagnosed after two-year illness
Published Date: 13 March 2011
Katrina Anderson, a former nurse, suffered a mysterious long-term illness that doctors could not diagnose. She became convinced she was a hypochondriac.
But, as she was about to refer herself to a psychiatrist, tests revealed she had Lyme disease.
She said: “I was lethargic, with joint pain. I had headaches and high temperatures. I was off work for about nine months but all the tests were coming back without answers. I had this thing on my leg that looked like a cancerous growth but the doctor said it was just an insect bite.
“Eventually I asked to see a psychiatrist because my life had come to a halt but I was sent to an infectious diseases unit where they did more tests.”
The 51-year-old was eventually diagnosed after two years of illness. She still suffers from a range of problems including muscular aches and tinnitus.
She believes she caught the infection from a tick on one of her dogs, and that it may have happened in her own back garden.
She added: “There is ignorance and a lack of awareness (about tick-borne disease]. I do find day-to-day things very difficult and I don’t want anyone else to go down the same road. If I had been diagnosed earlier I would not be in the pain I am in today.”
DOCS yesterday warned a deer-borne tick-bug that can cause a lifetime of illness is spreading throughout Scotland (published Mar 14 2011)
A public health investigation found Lyme disease cases soared in Tayside from just five in 2005 to 67 last year.
It’s prompted concerns tick infestation is moving south from its traditional Highlands hotspot.
Lyme disease can cause disorders including meningitis and palsy.
Dr Darrel Ho-Yen, of the investigation team, said: “What is important is Tayside was not previously a hotspot.”
Europe ticks ‘established’ in UK
By Victoria Gill: Science and nature reporter, BBC News
Ticks are more common in the UK than previously thought
A species of blood-sucking tick native to continental Europe has become established in the UK, scientists say.
Researchers found five European meadow ticks in south-east England and west Wales during a search of the UK’s dogs.
This involved 173 veterinary practices, which collectively checked more than 3,500 dogs and sent any ticks they found to a lab for identification.
The study also found that 15% of dogs in the UK had ticks attached at any one time during the summer.
Faith Smith from the University of Bristol led the study, which was published in the journal Medical and Veterinary Entomology.
“We asked the vets to check dogs totally at random; to check any dog coming in for any reason,” she told the BBC.
“That gave us a broad sample of dogs, and in many cases their owners weren’t aware that they had picked up a tick.”
As well as indentifying the European meadow ticks (Dermacentor reticulatus), this search showed that almost 15% of dogs in the UK had ticks attached any one time during the summer.
Gundogs, terriers and pastoral breed groups were most susceptible to picking up ticks, which often wait in long grass for animals to brush past. Longer-haired dogs were also more susceptible.
The researchers think a changing climate and “increased global movement of people and companion animals” have assisted the spread of ticks.
Dogs often pick up ticks from long grass
“Studies have been done to show that the distribution of Ixodes ricinus (the sheep tick) has shifted northwards in continental Europe in the past few decades, and that the species has been found at higher altitudes,” said Miss Smith.
“So it is possible that climate change will affect certain species of ticks.”
There is concern that the European species could spread infections that do not currently occur in the UK, including tick-borne encephalitis.
“The longer the tick is on, the higher the chance of a tick-borne disease,” said Miss Smith.
“Ticks don’t actually start to transmit infections until 24-48 hours post attachment. [Tick Talk note – some studies show transmission much sooner than this so the message is to keep a watch for ticks at any time]
“So the sooner it is removed cleanly, the smaller the risk of getting disease it might be carrying.”
Perthshire woman tells how Lyme disease has devastated her life
Apr 15 2011 by Alison Anderson, Perthshire Advertiser Friday
A LYME disease victim has endured horrendous health and personal problems after being twice bitten by infected ticks in Perthshire, writes Alison Anderson.
As outdoor enthusiast Linda Sinclair prepares to sell her beloved house near Fortingall, she told the PA how she believes Lyme disease has robbed her of her home, health and marriage.
“I was a keen hillwalker and I picked up a tick when walking in Perthshire about 10 years ago,” she said.
“I started having strange symptoms which couldn’t be identified including dizzy spells and signs of a kidney infection even though tests showed I didn’t actually have an infection.
“Then about four years ago, I had another tick bite which I think triggered the full-blown Lyme disease. But even then, doctors didn’t diagnose it as Lyme disease.”
In grandmother-of-five Linda, the disease manifested itself as meningitis, putting her in agony and in hospital.
“The extreme pain moved around my body and was much worse when I laid down,” continued Linda (60).
“For six weeks I’d pace the floor at night because no pain killers except morphine could take away the pain.”
She also became severely dehydrated, but the medical profession still failed to link her many debilitating symptoms to Lyme disease.
“There is no definitive test for Lyme disease and it affects people in different ways, but with a combination of blood test and clinical diagnosis a specialist at Ninewells Hospital confirmed I had Lyme disease.”
That was in 2006, and Linda’s life is still compromised.
“I’ve been left with a form of ME, with a constant pain, especially in my joints, and extreme tiredness,” she explained.
“I have difficulty in focusing on and accomplishing tasks and have memory loss. I think the medical profession are getting more aware of Lyme disease but it horrifies me that there is still a huge level of ignorance.”
Linda now takes all possible steps to prevent picking up another tick. While she is no longer able to go hillwalking, she enjoys spending time in her garden – but always in wellies and long sleeves.
She advised: “Anyone going walking in the countryside should always wear long trousers either with gaiters or have their trousers tucked into sturdy socks, and long-sleeved shirts to minimise the risk of getting ticks on their skin.
“They should examine themselves afterwards and if they have a tick should use a proper tick remover.”
This week is Tick Bite Prevention Week, aimed at preventing and raising awareness of Lyme disease.
Cases in Scotland have been dramatically increasing in recent years, and Perthshire has been identified as a tick bite ‘hotspot’.
There is currently no vaccination, so prevention is key. Fronting the campaign to raise awareness about Lyme disease is bushcraft and survival expert Ray Mears.
He has lent his support to tick-borne disease charity BADA-UK (Borreliosis and Associated Diseases Awareness-UK), the organisation behind the prevention week.
According to the Health Protection Agency, up to 3000 people in the UK contract Lyme disease (Borreliosis) from the bite of an infected tick each year.
“I feel that there is not enough awareness of Lyme disease in this country, given the fact that in rare cases it may can develop into a critical condition,” said Mears.
Farmers, ramblers and hill-walkers are most at risk from picking up ticks, but the nasty little creatures are present in urban parks and gardens as well as the countryside.
A dedicated website has been launched offering advice – go to http://www.tickbitepreventionweek.org
Tick and Lyme disease facts include:
Ticks are most abundant from April to October – but bites can occur year round.
Tick saliva contains an anaesthetic which means you don’t feel the bite.
Ticks drop from low vegetation or climb on an animal or person brushing by the plants on which the ticks are resting.
Ticks like warm places on the body like the groin, armpits and scalp. The back of the knee, waist and buttocks are also favourite blood-sucking spots.
Generally, the first sign Lyme disease is a circular rash within three to 30 days of infection.
A person may also experience flu-like symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, headache, and muscle aches.
Be aware of the dangers of ticks
7:00am Monday 18th April 2011
* By Amanda Williams »
FOR TWO years Helen d’Ayala has been battling the symptoms similar to flu.
Each day the mother-of-two is so tired she has to come home from work half way through the day just so she can snatch a few precious minutes sleep and battles painful muscle twinges.
The problem? A simple tick bite.
Mrs d’Ayala, a wildlife officer, was bitten by the blood feeding parasite while at work in 2009.
The 45-year-old said she had always been a fit and healthy woman, who loved working outdoors.
But her life changed immeasurably after she was bitten by a tick while working at a nature reserve on the Ridgeway, near Thame.
To mark Tick Bite Prevention Week, she called for more understanding of the effect of the bites, which are currently more prevalent than they had been and can affect dogs.
She said: “I began to feel really, really ill. It was like having flu, I had all of the same symptoms.
“I also had this most incredible pain across my shoulders, and a raging fever.
“I couldn’t even hold a pen and there were times I couldn’t get out of bed.”
Mrs d’Ayala, of Didcot, was finally diagnosed with Lyme Disease, which affects up to 3,000 people across the UK each year.
The disease is a bacterial infection, spread to humans by infected ticks – small, spider-shaped insects.
The most common symptom of Lyme Disease is a red skin rash. But if left untreated, symptoms such as a high temperature, muscle pain and swelling, and paralysis of the facial muscles can develop.
As soon as it was suspected she had the disease, Mrs d’Ayala was given antibiotics by her GP. But two years later, her health is still suffering.
She has since been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, or ME, and each day is a struggle for enough energy to balance looking after two children with her full time job.
She said: “Sometimes the children say to me ‘Mummy why are you so tired?’ “It has completely ruled my life for the past two years.
“I never consider myself the type of person who would be diagnosed with chronic fatigue. I was a really fit, outdoors person. I manage nature reserves for a living.
“I know there are people out there who are worse off than me, But there must be so many more people who have this disease and do not know what it is.”
WHERE AND WHAT TO DO TICKS caused Lyme Disease and are often picked up while doing through activities such as hiking and mountain-biking.
It is rare, but is more common in places such as Exmoor, the New Forest, South Downs, parts of Wiltshire and Berkshire, Thetford Forest, the Lake District, the Yorkshire moors and the Scottish Highlands.
To remove a tick:
Use tweezers, wear gloves or cover your fingers with tissue to avoid touching the tick.
Grab it as close to the skin as you can, and gently pull straight up until all parts are removed.
Do not twist or jerk the tick as you are removing it because this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in your skin once the tick has been removed.
Wash your hands with soap and water. Using petroleum jelly, alcohol or a lit match does not work.
Deadly Lyme disease on increase as more of us spend time outdoors
Why a tick bite could ruin your summer if you develop Lyme Disease
By Elizabeth Grice
7:00AM BST 16 May 2011
Michael Palin calls it “one of the most unpleasant illnesses to which travellers can be exposed”, a rather stoical description for a disease that can cause blindness, deafness, facial palsy and excruciating pain – and can be caught at this time of year in your own back garden.
Cases of Lyme disease have tripled in the past 10 years as more and more people take up outdoor pursuits. It comes from the bite of an infected tick and can attack the central nervous system in unpredictable ways. Although no bigger than a poppy seed, the insect inflicts a disproportionate amount of damage when it decides to leave its animal host – typically a deer – in search of human blood. A cunning operator, it abseils down from long grass and hooks on to unprotected skin, anaesthetising as it bites so that its victim has no warning sting, no reason to seek critical early treatment.
The symptoms that develop over the next few days and weeks are so complex and so easily confused with those of other conditions that they are frequently misdiagnosed. Although antibiotics are commonly prescribed when a blood test has proved positive for Lyme, according to specialists there is no good evidence about which type of antibiotic is most effective.
Stella Huyshe-Shires, 60, waited three increasingly desperate years for confirmation that she had Lyme disease. In that time, she suffered intense pain, fatigue, loss of hearing, stiffness in her joints, panic attacks and a general inability to function normally. Eventually, she had to take early retirement on grounds of ill health.
She was bitten, unawares, while working in her garden at Sidbury, east Devon, in 1999, and developed an irregular circular rash on her thigh. “It didn’t hurt and it didn’t sting, but it went on expanding,” she says. “When it started to encroach on my groin, I went to the doctor. He gave me some steroid cream. The rash faded, and I thought no more of it.”