Lyme Disease is spreading rapidly throughout the UK
4th September 2019
The number of people being diagnosed with Lyme disease in the UK is increasing rapidly. Researchers suggest it could be up to three times more common than the current estimate.
Between 2001 and 2012 recorded cases increased almost ten-fold, from 60 to 595, a study of GP records found. According to Public Health England, infections rose by up to 35 per cent between 2016 and 2017. These are just reported cases; many people do not realise they have the disease and do not go to the doctors for treatment often until it become much more severe.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread through bites from infected ticks. If left untreated in can lead to severe physical and mental problems. Symptoms include a circular red rash around a tick bite and flu-like symptoms such as, high temperatures, headaches and tiredness. If it is not detected and treated early some people can develop more severe symptoms such as pain and swelling in joints, nerve problems, heart problems and trouble with memory and concentration. These symptoms can appear months or years later.
Those who spend a lot of time outdoors or in grassy and woodland areas are more at risk of being bitten by an infected tick. However, the disease can be caught anywhere at any time in the UK and is becoming increasingly more common. These ticks are most active between March and October, with research finding over half the cases occurred between June and August.
Lyme disease spreading throughout the UK
According to Public Health England, around 1000 cases of Lyme disease are serologically diagnosed in England and Wales every year. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has stated that actually the true number of cases is currently unknown.
After analysing the anonymous medical records of 8.4 million people across the UK, scientists have forecast that Lyme disease diagnoses in the UK could top 8,000 this year compared with previous estimates of between 2,000 and 3,000. 4,083 cases of Lyme disease were detected among 4,025 patients, with 56 people being infected more than once.
The Metro reported that, Dr Victoria Cairns, a retired medical statistician from Oxford who led this research, said “This is really just showing there are many more cases than previously, officially estimated. The issue is really for the public to know so they go to the GP to get diagnosed.”
“Because that’s the really big problem with Lyme disease – some people don’t get diagnosed quick enough and then they go on to get long-term problems.”
Treatment and prevention
If treated early enough, the treatment works. This issue is when people do not get diagnosed in time because then they may develop long-term issues. Experts say that the best way to ward off the disease is prevention. To reduce the risks of being bitten the NHS and other health authorities advise covering your skin whilst walking outdoors and tucking your trousers into your socks, avoid dense vegetation and grassy areas as much as possible and use insect repellents on your clothes and skin, especially products that contain DEET as they are the most effective repellents.
In these summer months, whilst these ticks are most active and the chances of becoming infected are much higher, it is so important to protect yourself and your family. The summer holidays mean that children are more likely to be outside and playing and so keeping them safe and protected is no doubt a priority for many parents.
Kays Medical have a range of anti-insect products that can prevent you and your family from being bitten and reduce the chances of developing Lyme disease. We can provide sprays, lotions, roll-ons and gels all containing DEET as well as DEET free options for those who prefer it, and have products suitable for all ages.