Wake up to Lyme Disease
With reports of Lyme Disease in the area we wanted to raise awareness and give tips on how to avoid it.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia and is most commonly transmitted via a tick bite. Ticks are arachnids and can be as small as a poppy seed which makes them hard to see.
Infected ticks can be found all over the UK, generally in woodland and parkland, but they can also be found in urban parks and even gardens. You can be infected in any month, but it is most likely in spring/summer. And don’t forget to check your dog - the Big Tick project found ticks on 1 in 3 dogs.
Prevention is crucial. It is recommended that you wear insect repellent during outdoor activities, avoid walking through long grass and stick to pathways. Wear light coloured clothing with long sleeves and trousers, and brush off any visible ticks. If you have to walk in long grass, tuck trousers into socks. Shower and check for ticks when you get home. Also use tick prevention on your pets and thoroughly check them for ticks after they have been outdoors.
If you spot a tick you should NEVER pull it off with your fingers, normal tweezers or any other tool not designed for the job. Neither should you smother the tick in oil or petroleum jelly. Carefully remove it using a tick remover or a pair of very fine tipped tweezers, being careful not to squeeze the body, and ensuring all parts of the tick are removed. If you save the tick, it can be tested for infections. There is no minimum time a tick needs to be attached to pass an infection, however do remove it as soon as possible.
Lyme disease can be hard to diagnose. Tick bites are easily missed and are not normally itchy or painful. Many people will not get the classic ‘bull’s-eye’ rash. Other symptoms to look out for are ‘summer flu’, headaches, fatigue, joint pain and behavioural changes. A blood test cannot rule out Lyme disease.
You should be aware that less than 3% of GPs were estimated to have taken the Royal College of GP’s (RCGP) course on Lyme disease (as of Feb 2017) so they may not be familiar with the symptoms you may present to them.
Early treatment is key and should be started immediately if a ‘bull’s-eye’ rash is present. Your GP will be able to advise on the best antibiotics for you. The Royal College of GP course on Lyme states that antibiotics should be repeated until all symptoms cease.