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McArthur seeks Lyme disease assurance

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur.

Orkney MSP, Liam McArthur has sought assurances from both the Scottish Government and NHS Orkney over the testing and treatment of Lyme disease.

Responding to a UK-wide study published this week, which suggests cases of Lyme disease are three times higher than previous estimates, Mr McArthur asked the Scottish Government:“What action has been taken to improve testing and treatment for Lyme disease and associated tick-borne diseases since June 2014?”

In response, the minister for public health, Joe Fitzpatrick, confirmed that testing and treatment were under constant review and, while he acknowledged that there were gaps in the effectiveness of currently available testing, work was underway to address it.  He added that the chief medical officer had written to public health boards in June to highlight what resources were available to diagnose and manage Lyme disease.

Mr McArthur has since received assurances from NHS Orkney that the guidance from the Chief Medical Officer is felt to be “comprehensive and useful”.

He said: “The effects of Lyme disease can be potentially extremely serious.  At this time of year, with more people enjoying the outdoors, there is an increased risk of tick bites and infection.

“Yet recent figures suggest that many cases of Lyme disease are going unreported.  In part, this seems to reflect a lack of awareness amongst both the public and the medical profession.  I welcome the fact, therefore, that updated guidance is being provided but would urge the government to ensure that any remaining gaps in testing and treatment are addressed as quickly as possible.

“Meantime, it is important that the public takes care when out and about in the countryside.  Anyone who thinks they may have been infected, should contact their GP immediately.”

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