Midges and ticks are one of the most annoying features of a Scottish summer. They can,however, not just be annoying but ticks can also carry with them Lyme disease. Prevention is the best policy and NHS Choices has issued some sensible advice.
How to reduce the risk from Lyme Disease
- Keep to footpaths and avoid long grass when out walking
- Wear appropriate clothing in tick-infested areas (a long-sleeved shirt and trousers tucked into your socks)
- Wear light-coloured fabrics that may help you spot a tick on your clothes
- Use insect repellent on exposed skin
- Inspect your skin for ticks, particularly at the end of the day – remove any ticks you find promptly
- Check your children’s head and neck areas, including their scalp
- Make sure ticks are not brought home on your clothes
- Check that pets do not bring ticks into your home in their fur
Local MSP Maree Todd, SNP, wants much more to be done to educate the public and health professionals to improve diagnosis and treatment of those who are affected by Lyme disease.
Speaking in a debate in the Scottish Parliament Maree Todd MSP said:
“It is very important to be aware of tick bite prevention methods to protect yourself when outdoors. We can all try to avoid tick bites where possible. There are various ways in which that can be done, such as by wearing long-sleeved and light-coloured clothing, avoiding long grass, wearing insect repellent, ensuring that ticks are removed promptly and treating our dogs so that they do not get ticks.”
The symptoms of Lyme Disease tend to start with a distinctive rash shaped like a bullseye and if caught early enough, it can often be treated effectively with a course of antibiotics. If left untreated or delayed it can go on to develop into a chronic, debilitating and disabling condition.
Last year, Maree had the pleasure of meeting Dr Roger Evans and his team at Raigmore hospital in Inverness.
Mare Todd commented:
“Dr Evans is one of the UK’s leading experts on lyme disease, and they are doing fantastic work to collect data and improve the quality of testing. If the research is fruitful, it could transform the testing and care of folk with Lyme disease not just in Scotland but around the world.”
An awareness raising session with Lyme Disease UK was held after the debate in the Scottish Parliament. Maree Todd met with black-Isle woman, Morven-May MacCallum, author of Finding Joy. She also met the Highland Lyme Disease Support group which meets monthly in Inverness.
Maree Todd said:
“We can agree that much needs to be done to educate the public and health professionals to improve diagnosis and treatment of those who are affected by Lyme disease. Accurate testing and data collection are vital, but raising awareness is the important first step.”