Lyme disease is thankfully rare in Scotland, and not something that should anyone should worry about in a way that would diminish the enjoyment of Scotland’s countryside. Nor are we are aware of any cases originating from South Chesthill. However it does exist in Scotland and anyone who finds a tick on themselves should follow some simple advice to avoid the risk of getting ill.
The name Lyme disease is derived from a place in the USA where a number of cases were identified in the 1970s. The disease is not new, having been recorded from several parts of the world, under various names, since the end of the 19th century.
What causes Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is an illness caused by bacteria which can be transmitted to people or animals by the bite of an infected tick. Over recent years there has been an apparent increase in the incidence of the disease to over 2,000 cases per year in Scotland, but some of this increase will be because of improved tests for diagnosis.
The ticks that carry the disease are tiny insect-like creatures which are found in woodlands or areas of long grass, bracken or heather. They attach themselves to people or animals and may crawl on clothing for a prolonged period before having the chance to bite. Ticks feed by biting through the skin and sucking blood. When fed they increase in size and can reach the size of a coffee bean before dropping off their victim.
What are the risks?
The risk of contracting the disease is very small. Not all ticks are infected with Lyme Disease, and bites from infected ticks do not always transmit the infection. A number of precautions can be taken to reduce the risk further.
Many people who have been infected with the bacteria remain perfectly well, others display a variety of symptoms. The most common is a skin rash which spreads out in a circle from the site of the bite after a few days. This may be accompanied by mild fly like symptoms such as headache, aches and pains and a high temperature. Other symptoms can occur weeks or months later, including tingling in the arms or legs, the sensation of sunburn around the trunk, temporary paralysis of the face muscles, other skin rashes and painful joints. Arthritis or heart problems can occur but are very rare.
Credit and thanks for the above to: the British Deer Society