Pictured is Mr. Graham Charlesworth, Vet, presenting at the event held on Thursday 30th March
Approximately 80 people attended two events organised by NHS Western Isles, on March 30th and 31st, where discussions centred on the burden of ticks and Lyme disease affecting the population of the Western Isles.
The events, both held in Stoneybridge Hall in South Uist, paid attention to the issue which is particularly prominent in Uist.
Local speakers included Dr. Stephen Bird (GP), Mr. Graham Charlesworth (Vet), Dr. Maggie Watts (NHS Western Isles Director of Public Health), Mrs Isabell MacInnes (NHS Western Isles Health Protection Nurse Specialist), Mr David Muir (Scottish Crofting Federation) and Ms Johanne Ferguson (Scottish National Heritage).
The evening event held on 30th March was designed to raise awareness of how to prevent tick bites and what to do if bitten, as well as provide information on the common infections transmitted by ticks. These include Lyme disease affecting humans, alongside other illnesses commonly affecting local livestock and humans on occasion.
The event also saw the launch of an information leaflet and awareness poster produced by NHS Western Isles. The materials provide information and advice on what ticks are, tick awareness, how to carry out a tick check and what to do if bitten. A fun interactive part of the evening saw people trying out the tick tool, using pins and oranges!
As part of the wider campaign to raise awareness, information and tick tools for the removal of ticks are being distributed to all schools and nurseries across the Western Isles, together with a link to an online video clip showing the safe removal of ticks. The video is available to view at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaKU1zjWOyg
The availability of these tools is also being increased through a greater number of local outlets providing them for sale. In partnership with Caledonian MacBrayne ferries, tick awareness information posters will be displayed at ports and on vessels sailing to the Western Isles.
The event held on 31st March provided an opportunity for a more in-depth exploration and understanding of the life cycle of the tick, its prevalence across parts of the Uists and the ways in which Lyme disease can present.
Discussion focused on the need for more research into the tick population and the carriage of Lyme disease and other infections, with important areas for such research being identified.