A man in Weston-super-Mare is facing weeks of treatment after he contracted Lyme disease after being attacked by ticks whilst on a fishing trip.
Bitten 17 times, Nigel Smith, 55, had a terrible reaction and is now on a four-week course of strong antibiotics to combat the reaction.
He had gone fishing at around 4:30am on Sunday, June 30 at Summer Lane Ponds in Weston Village and it wasn’t until the end of his trip that he started to notice the first signs of the disease, reports Bristol Live.
The mistake he had made was walking through long grass and unaware of what was lurking below.
“I kept getting little bites on my legs, “ he said. “But I thought it was mosquitoes and just flicked them off.”
The bites then developed into red dots on his legs, which then progressed into a rash on his left leg.
Then, at work the next day he experienced flu-like symptoms including a temperature, pain and dizziness.
“My friend at work said it looked like I had an allergic reaction to something,” he said.
On arrival home, Nigel was feeling worse and went to AE at Weston General Hospital where a nurse told him quickly he was suffering from Lyme Disease.
“The heads of the ticks were buried in my legs,” he said. “When you remove the body, the head regurgitates everything which was in the tick’s body into your bloodstream.
“Luckily the nurse I saw was a specialist in Lyme Disease and quickly diagnosed me.”
Nigel is now on a four-week course of antibiotics. If his symptoms still exist after that period he faces a further course of medicine.
“I felt absolutely awful,” he said. “I was sitting in hospital in a furry coat, yet was shivering.
“The pain in my left leg is really bad, It feels like I have been sitting next to a barbecue and getting them burnt.
“It is the first time I have ever been bitten by a tick and I have never encountered anything like it before.
“I am lucky I got treatment quickly.”
Nigel is off work, but is expected to make a full recovery. He is warning others to take extra precautions when walking in long grass.
“If I go fishing again I will be wearing appropriate clothing.
“Apparently the area is rife with ticks at the moment. The ponds are a really popular spot with local people and children.
“What is worrying is to think if a child suffered the same amount of bites as me, they may not have survived.
“I just want people to be aware and take the relevant precautions to stop this from happening to anyone else.”
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium named Borrelia spread by ticks.
The most common sign of infection is an expanding area of redness on the skin which appears at the site of the tick bite about a week after it occurred.
Untreated, Lyme disease can spread to other parts of the body for several months to years after infection, causing arthritis and nervous system problems.
Most people recover when treated within a few weeks of antibiotics taken by mouth. In a small percentage of cases, symptoms such as fatigue and muscle aches can last for more than six months.
Ticks become more prevalent between May and September.
The number of cases of Lyme Disease has increased in recent years.
Ticks are small, spider like creatures which feed on the blood of animals and humans.
Most tick bites occur during spring and summer because this is the time of year when most people take part in outdoor activities.
Damp, shady dense vegetation, dead leaves or long grass provide the perfect habitat for the creatures.
Ticks don’t jump or fly, but climb on to people or animals as they brush past. They then bite into the skin and attach themselves, before they start feeding on the blood of their new host.
Ticks prefer warm places on the body, especially the groin area, waist, armpits, behind the knee and along hairlines.
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Public Health England has recently issued advice advising people how to avoid getting bitten and what steps to take for those who do.
A spokesman for Public Health England said: “It is important to carry out a regular tick check after participating in outdoor activities.
“A tick check is carried out by looking and feeling for ticks that may have attached to the skin.
“By performing a tick check, the chance of infection is reduced because feeding ticks are spotted and removed promptly.”
With an estimated 2000-3000 new cases in England and Wales each year, Lyme disease is one of the fastest-growing infections in the UK – and beyond.
However the true number of cases is likely to be much higher due to under-reporting and unreliable testing methods.
People who spend time outdoors in areas where ticks are found are most at risk of developing Lyme disease.