HNCF logo Harrow Nature Conservation Forum
Lyme Disease
image of tick
Image by Ragnhild Brosvik, Creative Commons licence

Lyme disease gets its name from a small coastal town in Connecticut called Lyme. It was named thus in 1981. One theory is that infected ticks had escaped from a nearby laboratory.

There are 32 species of tick in the UK. Only three carry the bacterium Borrelia (Lyme Disease). They include the sheep tick, the hedgehog tick and the one which we are most likely to encounter, the fox tick. This can be found in local parks and some overgrown gardens.

While the course of the illness varies greatly from person to person, initial manifestations can include a unique skin lesion known as erythema chronicum migrans, headaches, musculoskeletal pain, coughing, sore throat, conjunctivitis, and minor neurological impairment.

If the diagnosis is confirmed early enough, Lyme is treated almost exclusively with short-term antibiotics, often penicillin, which are almost 100 percent effective. But if Lyme goes untreated, symptoms can progress. Further information can be found on the following web sites

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tick-bite-risks-and-prevention-of-lyme-disease - Factsheet providing information that will help people avoid tick bites.

Advice from the NHS: https://beta.nhs.uk/conditions/lyme-disease/

The Big Tick Project http://www.bigtickproject.co.uk/ticks-in-the-uk/uk-tick-threat-map/ shows a map of the threat of Lyme disease in various counties; in Middx the threat is Med/low, in Herts Med/high.

Those who watched Matt Dawson’s account, on London TV, of this disease, which he caught in Chiswick House grounds where there are no deer, will know that this disease should be taken seriously. He ended up in Royal Brompton Hospital having treatment for a heart condition.

Our advice is to wear long trousers while out waking with one’s trouser bottoms tucked into your socks if possible. The most recommended way to remove ticks is to use ‘tick tweezers’ which can be purchased at Boots and most well-known supermarkets (maybe in the pet section).

John Hollingdale
Return to Harrow Nature Conservation Forum home page