General practitioners urged to spot early signs of Lyme disease

0

GPs urged to spot early signs of Lyme disease which infects 3,000 Britons each year

  • More than 3,000 Britons each year are infected with tick-borne Lyme disease
  • Symptoms of Lyme disease often resemble those of more common conditions
  • Catched early, Lyme disease is easily treated with common antibiotics

GPs are failing to spot early signs of Lyme disease, an infection spread by tick bites that is on the rise in the UK, experts warn.

“We hear from doctors and patients across the country reporting cases of Lyme disease almost every week,” says Arlene Brailey, administrator of the charity Lyme Resource Centre.

“It’s a growing problem, and most GPs outside of hotspots don’t know what they’re looking for.” Often patients are told it’s just a bug bite and given an itch cream and nothing more,” she adds.

GPs are failing to spot early signs of Lyme disease, an infection spread by tick bites which is on the rise in the UK, experts warn

Early diagnosis of Lyme disease - which affects around 3,000 Britons every year - is crucial

Early diagnosis of Lyme disease – which affects around 3,000 Britons every year – is crucial

People who get Lyme disease usually develop a circular red rash where they were bitten, like a bullseye on a dart board.

They may suffer from flu-like symptoms such as a high temperature, headache, or muscle and joint pain.

However, doctors are often unaware of the telltale symptoms and regularly misdiagnose them.

Early diagnosis of Lyme disease – which affects around 3,000 Britons each year – is crucial. Taken within the first few months after the bite, the bacterial infection can be easily treated with antibiotics.

If missed, the disease can lead to serious conditions such as arthritis, heart problems, and brain damage.

Ticks carrying the Borrelia bacteria that cause Lyme disease are prevalent in woodland areas, and hotspots include the New Forest, Lake District, South Downs and Scottish Highlands.

But cases of Lyme disease are also increasing in areas previously not associated with the disease.

According to Harvard Medical School in the United States, climate change is mainly responsible for this increase, with warmer and more humid weather making ticks active for longer periods and in a wider area.

Prof Jack Lambert, an infectious disease expert at University College Dublin, says: ‘We are seeing ticks carrying Lyme disease in areas we haven’t had before – from Norfolk to London.

Experts say another factor is that more people have started walking. “A lot more people are enjoying the outdoors now because during Covid walking was one of the only things to do,” says Arlene Brailey.

“That’s certainly good news, but it also means there are a lot of tick-naive people walking around in the woods.”

Advertisement

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.