Cases of Lyme Disease, a weakening condition caused by blood-sucking ticks in Scotland's Highlands have been on the increase in Tayside, reports a team from Dundee's Ninewells Hospital.
The team, carrying out a public health investigation, discovered that there has been an increase in the incidence of the disease in the last five years.
The disease is picked up by ticks from birds, deer and sheep that carry it, and when these ticks attach themselves to humans, the disease gets transferred, causing serious neurological and heart problems to the human host, if left undetected.
The forest environment in Tayside has contributed to the increase in cases which have risen from 5 in 2005 to 67 last year. 25 per cent of the cases had advanced to the extent where neurological symptoms had developed that could lead to meningitis or palsy.
The early symptoms of Lyme disease are a rash, flu-like symptoms and fever, although the bite itself is painless and the ticks, except the adult ones, are invisible on the skin. Antibiotics need to be administered immediately, and if the symptoms are ignored it can end in disabilities.
Climate change, farming methods which impact the ticks' natural woodland habitat and an increase in the deer population have contributed to the increase in cases of Lyme Disease in Tayside.