Thursday, 19 August 2010

Sheep up for rent to rid the tick

This really follows on from my recent posts relating to lyme disease. Whilst I was up in the Highlands this week I discovered that Lyme disease is becoming more and more prevalent so much so that the local landowners are renting sheep from the local farmers so that they graze on their hillsides. They naturally chew their way though the long grass that is home to ticks. Ridding them of their habitats which naturally means fewer ticks. On this rationale the awareness of this issue is seemingly spreading which is great news. Furthermore people are taking action to attempt to inhibit the spread of them which is even better.

I discovered that there was a chap who started to come down with what he suspected was Lyme disease. When he consulted his doctor he suggested that he suspected he'd contracted Lyme disease, the doctor agreed and prescribed him antibiotics which he duly took. Fortunately for him, the swift action meant that the Lyme disease never got too severe and he nipped it in the bud before the symptoms were too overwhelming. By educating folk this could be the norm eradicating the suffering of those that contract the disease.

Since I started posting on this topic there have been quite a few signatures added to the petition (please click here to view and sign) which is superb and the tally now stands at over 400 signatures.


Martin Rye said...

The best thing is sheep get dipped in chemicals once a year which kills the ticks. I don't recall having any tick issues in the Lake District with lots sheep but in Scotland I am always careful about ticks and the risk of Lyme disease.

Jan said...

@Martin - I was bitten in the Lake District in 2004, people are still being bitten currently, it's all over the UK.

afootinthehills said...

I wouldn't want to underplay the seriousness of Lyme Disease but I do wonder if we are getting all this out of proportion. The latest accident figures I have for the Highlands (2000) shows that there were 238 accidents of which 42 were fatal. I expect this figure has stayed pretty constant or gone up a litte over the last 10 years.In 2008 there were something like 289 reported cases of Lyme Disease and none fatal.

There is risk in everything we do and statistically we are all far more likely to be killed or injured driving to the hills than we are to be either killed, have an accident in the hills or contract Lyme Disease from a tick bite.

I must have had hundreds of tick bites but they are still the last thing on my mind when I go walking or climbing. I remove them when I find them and keep an eye on the bite area. What more can anyone do? Enjoy the hills, I say, with all the attendant 'risks'!

Just a view - and sorry for such a long comment

Anonymous said...


The most important point here is that you are aware and sadly about 90% of the people I talk to are not aware of the risks of tickborne illness in the UK.

Protection and speedy removal will reduce the risk of infection by Lyme Disease.

As with many illnesses our immune systems have different capabilities of coping. There is a hugely wide spectrum from infected with no symptoms to death.

The figures for positively tested Lyme Disease cases in Scotland for 2009 are 600 and bearing in mind Dr Ho Yen of Scotland Health Agency and the CDC suggest the true figure will be 10x that of serologically tested cases.So an increase of 100% in a year no wonder £2.5 million grant has been given to Edinburgh University to study the mechanisms of ticks and how they survive when infected.

Lyme Disease is an emerging disease so much is still not properly researched. How many people developing ME/CFS, Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, MS could indeed be caused by Borrelia infection currently they are not being assessed for this.
Kevin Slater was bitten whilst walking in the Lake District see newspaper article

Weekend Dude many thanks for posting and raising awareness.

Tick mops are good providing they are dipped because the fashion for spraying does not kill the ticks only the dipping in the chemicals they used to use will erradicate the ticks.

Enjoy our beautiful countryside but be tick aware.

afootinthehills said...

I agree that we should all be 'tick aware' and as I said, I'm not underplaying the seriousness of Lyme Disease in any way whatsoever.

Thanks for the information on the latest figures for positively tested cases and it's good to know about the grant given to Edinburgh University.

Denise Longman said...

Thank you for putting a link to our petition on your site. It is really much appreciated, as we tried a petition last year, on the governments own .gov site, and although we had 2000 signatures, all that happened was the standard response churning out the spin.
The new petition is going to be backed up by actually printing it out and collecting names from people who are not big users of the internet. Some Lyme patients have already collected 100 names each on paper.
The ipetition site has given us a lot of problems so every week I copy and paste the signatures. Recently several just disappeared from the site - how can that happen?
I hope you don't mind but I'll put the link here again so anyone reading can just click on it and thanks again for making walkers and ramblers aware of the potential dangers.
The worst thing is - that doctors don't know, and even the ones who do know, will not treat chronic Lyme and there are about 200,000 people at least suffering long-term effects in the UK.

There can be sudden deaths, for example the mountaineers in Sweden who all suddenly died of heart attacks which were actually caused by bartonella which is carried by mites fleas and ticks.


best wishes,
Bitten on the Applecross peninsula, Scotland, midsummer's day 1985. The first fever began 30 days later back in Manchester. When I remembered the sheep ticks, my GP said ticks don't carry disease.......

afootinthehills said...

I've signed the petition via Joanne's blog.

The Weekend Dude said...

Hi Guys,

First thanks for your comments and balanced discussion, it's been educational and enlightening. Furthermore apologies for the delayed response I've been away with work.

I do agree there is a fine line and would never want to incite fear or disuade people from heading out into the hills by any means they are there to be enjoyed for sure. All I had attempted to do in posting relating to ticks and lyme disease was to hopefully educate both individuals and possibly (although highly unlikely on here) those within the medical profession of what could potenially be Lyme Disease in order that early diagnosis could be done and quick cure actioned.

Apologies if I came across as scaremongering.

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