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The Connoisseurs Mountain Marathon

TICK BITES & LYME'S DISEASE

Martin Rhodes, one of our competitors and an expedition doctor, has contracted Lyme's Disease from a tick bite at the LAMM. We suggest you read this if you were also bitten by a tick. Not surprisingly, Martin is now well clued up about the disease and offers some very sound advice.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by ticks. The bacterium (a spirochaete) is called Borrelia burgdorferi.
You need to be bitten by an infected tick. Most ticks do not carry the disease. It is also thought that infection is less likely if the ticks have not been attached for you for a day or two.

Diagnosis in the early stages of the disease is essentially a clinical one ie. based on what has happened to you and your symptoms rather than specific laboratory tests.

Runners have spent 2 days in an area where there are deer and ticks. At least one of those (the one that got me!) carries Borrelia.

The definitive sign of Lyme disease is a rash spreading from the site of a bite. This may occur 3 - 30 days after the bite, and classically looks like bulls eye on a target with a darker ring surrounding a paler inner. This rash is called erythema migrans.However, up to half of patients don't get a rash at all and in many of those who do the rash is not typical. There are often flu-like symptoms with aching muscles and joints and headaches.

Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, and the earlier the diagnosis is made and treatment started the better, as a few untreated people do go onto develop a chronic form of the disease which can be quite disabling.

So my advice:

  • Don't panic if you have been bitten by ticks in the absence of a rash or other symptoms you don't need any investigation or treatment.
  • If you have developed or develop an unexplained rash in the next few weeks do see your GP and explain where you have been running, and that you have had tick bites. The same is true if you develop unexplained flu-like sympoms.
  • Beware the misinformation on the web. I would recommend as a starting point the Health Protection Agency website www.hpa.org.uk and for further information the links in www.patient.co.uk.

Please let me know if I can help further. I can be reached at any time on 07989 491364.
Dr Martin Rhodes - mole@hangingbyathread.f9.co.uk

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