Saturday, 16 May 2015

Lyme Disease Month

On our recent walk across the hills of the southwest corner of Ardnamurchan, which took us to the lost settlement of Raidh-dhail, we came across this excavation in a little glen close to the old houses.  We think it's a wallow used by red deer stags, a reminder that, although we didn't see one all day, they're very much around.

We had another reminder. For the first time this year, we found two ticks on our skin, beasties which had probably been hiding in the heather having dropped off a passing deer.  Although we always wear long trousers tucked into socks, these had got to our skin by crawling up our sleeves, where....

....they made themselves at home.  Having only just arrived, they were easy to remove, which was done quickly as medical advice suggests that, if caught within 24 hours, they're much less likely to transmit Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is the sort of ailment that seemed once to have been confined to tropical countries along with other horrors such a beri-beri, blackwater fever, bilharzia and rabies, but it's becoming increasingly common here - we know of someone in Tobermory who has recently been diagnosed with it.  Symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a very distinctive, circular skin rash called erythema migrans.  Unless treated promptly, the disease can have devastating consequences.

The Americans, who seem to be afflicted every bit as badly as we are, have decided that May should be 'Lyme Disease Month', which seems appropriate as the ticks are coming out to play earlier and earlier every year, perhaps helped by the general warming of the climate.  Further, the threat is becoming sufficiently serious for the European Space Agency to be funding research in the Highlands - link here.

After our recent experience, and with the timely warning from Tobermory, we're taking just a few extra precautions, including spraying our wrists with insecticide before we set out on our walks.  One thing Lyme disease is not going to do is stop us walking across the beautiful landscapes of West Ardnamurchan.

There's more about Lyme disease here.

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