Awareness and prevention of contracting Lyme Disease is to be built into the West Dunbartonshire Council school curriculum after a motion was unanimously passed at full council.
Last week SNP councillor Sophie Traynor presented her motion which highlighted the UK run campaign “Wake up to Lyme” organised by Lyme Disease UK this month which looks to raise awareness on how to prevent tick bites, safely remove ticks and the importance of early treatment for people who become unwell following the bite.
Referrals for this disease have increased across the world in recent years and Scotland has a high percentage of the UK Lyme cases.
The motion read: “This council recognises the need to raise awareness and increase education about Lyme Disease and calls on the council to use the resources being offered from charities, such as the Lyme Resource Centre - Scotland, to implement awareness of Lyme Disease and the prevention of ticks into the school curriculum.”
During the meeting councillor Traynor highlighted just how important it was to talk about the illness and treat infections when they occur.
She said: “Lyme Disease is an infectious disease caused by the Borrelia bacteria. This bacteria is carried by small mammals such as hedgehogs, squirrels and rodents as well as nesting birds.
“Ticks feed on these creatures and become carriers for Lyme Disease. It becomes transmitted to humans when bitten by an infected tick. While Lyme Disease isn’t the only tick borne infection - it is the most prevalent.
“On average 5% of ticks in Scotland are infected with Borrelia. The number of cases of Lyme Disease in humans has risen in the last decade. In 1996 there were fewer than 30 cases of Lyme Disease diagnosed in Scotland.
“In 2014 there were more than 240 however according to recent studies it is estimated that only 20-40% of cases are referred and the numbers impacted are much more likely to be higher than what’s been reported.
“Caught early, Lyme Disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics. If left untreated it can lead to problems affecting joints, nervous system and the heart.
“Lyme Disease can therefore be a serious illness but there are plenty of things we can do to avoid contracting it. Some of these prevention methods including wearing protective clothing, applying repellent on the skin, checking for ticks and staying on trails when on “at risk” areas”.
“If bitten by a tick you should remove it by using fine tweezers and tick remover tools as soon as possible to reduce the risk of getting a tick borne infection. If a rash develops or you experience symptoms you should see your GP.
“Early treatment can prevent the spread of Lyme Disease. There are a range of resources available to allow people to educate themselves on this topic.
“Lyme Resource Centre who are a Scottish based charity created to educate the public and professionals about the disease and other related tick borne diseases.
“This motion asks the council to implement awareness into the school curriculum to ensure local residents are aware of the dangers from a young age and to ensure that children and young people are aware of what they can do to prevent the spread of Lyme Disease.”