It is a disease that starts from an innocuous tick bite, but can have serious complications if not treated quickly.
And now, a Lochaber GP has created a checklist speed up diagnosis and treatment of Lyme Disease.
Dr James Douglas, based in Fort William, wants to minimise the risk of people catching the disease.
His campaign has captured incidences of tick bites across Lochaber with help from colleagues in primary care and out-of-hours services, as well as the Belford Hospital’s A & E department.
Dr Douglas said the information collected will prove to be useful across Scotland.
He explained: “The data capture study in Lochaber aims to give us a much more accurate rate in one area.
“It will be useful throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK for planning the NHS response to Lyme disease.”
The guidance is posted on the NHS Highland intranet and provides useful information on tick removal and how to stop the disease, which has no preventative vaccine.
Dr Douglas said: “This is a great example of colleagues in primary and secondary care working together on a project of mutual concern as well as the new GP clusters working on a subject of huge public interest here in Lochaber.
“The guidelines will not only inform colleagues on how to promptly diagnose a tick bite and Lyme disease, but will improve coding information for admissions to hospital and prevention advice.
“We are also working closely with Health Protection Scotland on public information and the Forestry Commission on occupational information.”
Dr Douglas, who works at the Tweeddale Medical Practice in Fort William, has produced a video to demonstrate how to remove a tick safely using a special plastic device.
He added: “I would encourage everybody to continue to use the great outdoors, but just take some common sense precautions like having a tick removal device in first-aid kits and rucksacks.”
The first sign of Lyme disease is often a skin rash which generally occurs up to seven days after a tick bite. It is completely curable if recognised and treated at the this stage.
But the rash – which is sometimes misdiagnosed as ringworm or an allergic reaction – doesn’t always occur. Early symptoms can also include tiredness, headaches and muscle pain. Later, the disease can cause a range of symptoms and conditions, including arthritis, serious neurological disorders and loss of memory.
People who have been bitten by a tick should remove it as soon as possible, preferably using a specially-designed removal device, then wash their hands and disinfect the device as well as the area of the bite.
Dr Douglas’ video can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCuWVqWdWUE