Lyme Borreliosis, or Lyme Disease, is a tick borne infection caused by a bacteria called Borrelia. There are at least three known species of Borrelia that cause Lyme and so the presentation of the disease can be variable – one species is known to predominantly cause arthritis, another neurological manifestations; one species will cause a bullseye rash upon infection, another usually does not. All three pathogenic species are found in ticks across Europe (including the UK) and the US.
As orienteers, travelling through the open countryside most often off-path, we are at risk of the disease. It is essential that we are aware of the dangers and carry out preventative measures to reduce our risk. Equally we should arm ourselves with knowledge of the disease and it’s symptoms to ensure we are able to act quickly should we suspect an infection.
The UK organisation LDA or Lyme Disease action have a series of leaflets and information which is straightforward and informative. This includes simple instructions on how to remove ticks. There are also a series of leaflets about various aspects of ticks and Lymes Disease.
The International Lyme and Associated Disease Society also provides information particularly aimed at physicians who may not be fully aware of the disease and it’s many and varied symptoms.
Unfortunately Lymes Disease does not have a vaccine as yet, however there is a vaccine for Tick borne encephalitis, another tick borne disease which has not arrived here as yet. It is however prevalent on mainland Europe. Many of our fellow orienteers in Europe are vaccinated as a matter of course and the vaccination is recommended by most host competitions if you read the details thoroughly! Be sure to consider this when travelling abroad for competition.
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