Sufferers of Lyme Disease are being let down by the medical profession and are calling for political leaders in Scotland to lead the way in ensuring that a change of policy is put in place regarding the treatment of tick-borne infections which are ruining the lives of those affected.

The Tick-borne Illness Campaign Scotland have launched a petition which has been submitted to the Scottish Government and they ask that as many people as possible sign it to help bring an end to the suffering of debilitating chronic illness, ensure GPs and consultants understand the complexities of diagnosis and treatment, and that testing is improved so that all strains of the disease are included when blood tests go for screening.

Janey Cringean, who is part of the campaign and is still suffering with chronic symptoms after three years of misdiagnosis and ten years of treatment, says: “We, suffering Scottish patients, call on the medical and political leaders in Scotland to lead the way in ensuring that the recent acknowledgement of such complexities is followed by a change of policy regarding treatment of tick-borne infections which is of benefit to patients; that education of the public, GPs and consultants is increased and brought up-to-date; and that more resources are put into tackling a condition which is increasing in prevalence.”

Many patients in Scotland and throughout the world are being failed by current medical practice regarding Lyme Disease (also known as Borreliosis) and related tick-borne co-infections. As stated in a recent editorial, 'Lyme disease: time for a new approach?', in the British Medical Journal, “recently, the medical community has been collectively forced out of its comfort zone on Lyme disease by increasing evidence of the complexity of this multisystem disease”.

If Borreliosis is caught early, patients recover with standard treatment. However, 10 to 20% of patients go on to develop a debilitating chronic condition called Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome. Currently, many patients are not cured by the standard treatment and are then abandoned without further help. Many such patients are forced to seek private help or self-medicate.

There are numerous issues with testing and diagnosis. Current practice is to rely on diagnostic tests, but these are unreliable. According to Lyme Disease Action: “There are no conclusive tests for Lyme Disease currently in routine use in the UK that will accurately diagnose Lyme Disease or distinguish from past infection”.

The National Lyme Disease Reference Laboratory at Raigmore acknowledges that "Traditional testing is expensive, lacks sensitivity, cannot distinguish between current and past infection and cannot be used as a marker for treatment response."

Doctors need to be taught to recognise a collection of symptoms of Lyme disease, many of which mimic other illnesses, irrespective of the presence of the characteristic rash or positive blood test. Education should be improved to ensure that consultants are fully up-to-date on the complexity and persistence of Borrelia, including the added complexity when co-infections are involved. GPs and medical students also must be aware of the complexities of the illness, and the urgent need for prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Janey stresses that education should extend to the public, so that they are aware of the dangers and have information on how to protect themselves. This can be achieved partly by landowners being required to display suitable warning notices at, for example, visitor centres and car parks.

You can sign the petition here:

The petition closes on June 28, 2017.