East Devon's MP Sir Hugo Swire pressed Health Ministers to back further research into the study and treatment of Lyme disease.
Speaking at Health Questions in Parliament, Sir Hugo said: "Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed or diagnosed late, causing widespread suffering such as joint pain, paralysis and brain damage. I would like to pay tribute to the charity Cauldwell LymeCo that has pledged £1 million in research funding. Can I ask the Minister whether the Department for Health and Social Care will commission research for a better test for Lyme disease?"
Health Ministers confirmed that NICE is supporting the study of early diagnosis for Lyme disease and recently introduced new guidance, but is looking at how to improve diagnosis rates.
- Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is spread to humans by a bite from an infected tick.
- Most people with Lyme disease will develop a circular red rash around the tick bite within four weeks of being bitten.
- Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose. In the UK, about a third of cases do not notice a rash and may present with fever, headache or neurological symptoms.
- If left untreated, the disease can cause paralysis of facial muscles, mental confusion and heart problems. Up to a third of people with Lyme disease never fully recover.
Cases in the UK
- Lyme disease is not common in the UK. There are an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 new cases each year in England and Wales.
- High-risk areas for infected ticks are the south of England and the Scottish Highlands.
- Ticks with Lyme disease are most active between March and October.
- Growth in new cases of Lyme disease across Europe is at 14 per cent year on year.