Warning to beware the tiny ticks that cause health chaos

REGIONAL SNP MSP Maree Todd has been warning of a ‘ticking time-bomb’ being faced by people in Moray and throughout the Highlands in the form of a small spider-like creature.

This week Ms Todd told a debate at the Scottish Parliament that more needs to be done to raise awareness of Lyme Disease – an infection that has its source in bacterium carried by Ticks.

Ms Todd said that the Highlands are well known for being a “tick-heaven” – but much more needs to be done to educate the public and health professionals in the diagnosis and treatment of those affected by Lyme disease.

Commenting, Maree Todd MSP said: “As many people know, I grew up in the Highlands and I still live here. Ticks are a pretty normal part of life up here—in fact, the Highlands have been described as tick heaven.

“In our family, we routinely check each other for ticks after a day outdoors, as do lots of folk who live in the area. “It is very important to be aware of tick bite prevention methods to protect yourself when outdoors.

Maree Todd MSP

“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.

The MSP concluded: “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.”

Initial symptoms differ from person to person, this makes Lyme disease very difficult to diagnose. Some people with Lyme disease may have no symptoms at all.

The three phases to Lyme disease

  1. In the first phase, a red ring-shaped rash (called Erythema migrans) appears (in 35-50% of cases) within three weeks at the site of the bite. This rash slowly expands, then fades in the middle and finally disappears.
  2. During the second phase, flu-like symptoms appear: headache, exhaustion, pain in the arms and legs. These symptoms are self-limiting and will disappear on their own.
  3. During the last phase, often months after the bite, more serious and chronic symptoms will occur: joint pain, cardiac arrhythmia and nervous system disorders.