Three-years-ago, Derek Fisher was working as a gardener when he was bitten by a tick. Since then, his life has never been the same again.
Whilst gardening in Ogden, Halifax, the tick burrowed into Mr Fisher’s back and stayed there for two days. During that time, the tick infected the 57-year-old Halifax man with Borrelia burgdorferi (bacterium).
Lyme disease is carried by badgers, fox, mice and other mammals - which ticks feed on. In their natural habitant - including long grass, woods and moorland, a person is at greater risk of a tick bite.
The Yorkshire Moors have a high tick population.
In the UK the number of laboratory confirmed cases of Lyme disease is rising. In 1988 there were 23 confirmed cases; by 2011 1,300 cases were recorded. But, the actual number of annual cases could be triple, with many sufferers being misdiagnosed.
Mr Fisher experienced chronic fatigue, muscular pain and a general weakness. He spent two-years visiting doctors but was diagnosed and treated for ME - chronic fatigue due to inadequate medical knowledge and testing, said Mr Fisher.
“I felt so low, I was fatigued, sick, depressed and anxious. I suffered impaired vision, muscle pain, problems with my liver, my central nervous system was attacked” said Mr Fisher.
Lyme induced a highly emotional state in Mr Fisher whose life was turned upside down - he could no longer work, and found every day errands impossible to deal with.
“I shut myself away from friends, away from life.”
After two-years of desperate attempts of diagnosis and after investing £5,000 in medical care, Derek was confirmed to have Lyme disease.
Mr Fisher will be treated to try to control the disease. To afford treatment he has been forced to sell his home.
His health is a constant concern as the disease can cause heart attacks and strokes.
Mr Fisher now wishes to raise the profile of the disease. He said: “I want people in Calderdale to be aware of Lyme disease. I wasn’t aware of how easy it is to contract - if people are better informed they can take precautions when out on moorland.”
There is no vaccine against Lyme disease. Take precautions:
Wear long sleeved shirts and trousers.
Tuck trousers into socks.
Use insect repellent.
Check kids and pets for ticks.
To remove a tick use tweezers or a tick remover to grip close to the skin; pull backwards, using steady pressure. Do not twist or puncture the tick.