Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur joined MSPs from across the parties in calling for more action to tackle Lyme disease.
The call was made during a debate in the Scottish Parliament this evening marking Lyme Disease Awareness Month, highlighting the importance of raising awareness, improving detection and reducing the risk of the disease.
The number of Lyme disease cases in the UK has increased significantly over the past twenty years, with the highest rates in the Highlands and Islands.
Speaking during the debate, Mr McArthur said:
“Awareness of Lyme disease is crucial. The illness can be hard to detect and diagnose, yet early identification and treatment makes a huge difference in helping those affected to recover.
“We know that cases are on the increase due to changes in farming practices, the warming climate and a greater abundance of bracken, which provides a perfect habitat for ticks. Even so, the actual number of cases is almost certainly much higher, due to underreporting and misdiagnosis.
“While those working the land or regularly accessing the countryside are more at risk, there is a need to raise awareness with other groups too, including dog owners. That is why the Scottish Government and health bodies need to refresh awareness raising campaigns, while not discouraging people from accessing the countryside responsibly.
“Managing bracken more effectively is also essential. This will require government and its agencies to adopt a more sensible and proportionate approach to licensing the use of Azulam/Azulux.
“Public awareness of Lyme disease remains relatively low, while the risks of infection have increased. That is why there is such strong, cross party support for greater action to redress this imbalance.”