11 November 2008
EAST Devon MP Hugo Swire has raised awareness of Lyme disease in the House of Commons in a bid to highlight the condition.
Mr Swire championed the cause because of a constituent from Sidmouth who suffers from the disease.
The seminar entitled ‘Evidence for change’ was inspired by Mrs Stella Huyshe-Shires, who contracted the disease in 1999 but was not diagnosed until 2002 and then only because she insisted on a blood test and a referral to a neurologist.
Hugo Swire MP said: “Lyme disease is like an alien – the bacteria tries to take over your body. It is very serious and can make you permanently disabled. We need to be more aware of its dangers and more open to its diagnosis and more determined in its treatment.
“No vaccine against Lyme disease is currently available, so tick awareness, appropriate clothing in tick infested areas, and early removal of attached ticks remain the most important prevention measures.
“Patients say that the range of their symptoms is not recognised and that despite continuing symptoms some are denied antibiotic treatment beyond a 28 day course because of the use of these guidelines. This is clearly unacceptable.
“We need to raise awareness of this disease and clinicians need to better co-ordinate diagnosis and treatment as all were agreed that early treatment is vital.
“The United Kingdom should immediately develop its own guidelines rather than continue to rely on The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) guidelines on the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease.”
Lyme borreliosis is an infection caused by spiral-shaped bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which is carried by some types of ticks which live on sheep, deer, badgers and other warmblooded animals in forested, heathland and moorland areas.
Infected ticks can transmit the organisms during blood feeds, when they may be attached to the skin for several days if left undisturbed.
The most common problem associated with the infection is a rash spreading from the site of a tick bite, but other more serious problems can occur. These include a viral-like meningitis, facial palsy, other nerve damage or arthritis.