The enthusiastic runner Blair Jollands just started training for a marathon, when in August 2015 a tick bite changed everything.
"I had camped in the Cotswolds," says the singer-songwriter and composer whose work was featured in Poldark and the movie Shackleton, for which he received an Emmy nomination.
"Ten days after we got home, I noticed that I was thinking of a skin mark on my inner thigh. I did it, and later, in September, I noticed a strange, circular red rash in the same area that got bigger and brighter over the next four weeks, "Blair, 47, adds with his wife Liz lives in London. and her eight-year-old son.
"I was feeling very tired and had neck pain, my wife read an article about the Lyme disease, found that my rash looked like a porthole-a common symptom-and suggested I see a doctor."
Did you know? Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is contracted after a bite from a tick that carries the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is contracted after a bite from a tick that carries the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.
Blair went to the family doctor and received a blood test and a two-week course of the antibiotic doxycycline. Soon after he was told that he had been tested negative for Lyme – but a week later it turned out that he had at least tested positive.
"At that point, I felt very uncomfortable and had panic attacks, palpitations and woke up in the sweaty night," says Blair. "I was sick too."
He was told that he was free of the disease because of his antibiotic treatment. "I asked for more treatment at several hospitals and was told I was a hypochondriac," he says.
According to Public Health England, confirmed cases of Lyme disease have risen from 346 in 2003 to 1,700 in the past year.
Ticks are found throughout the country. They are the size of a spot so that a bite can be easily missed and the symptoms can not occur for weeks. About 70 percent get a red rash. Other symptoms include increased temperature, muscle and joint pain, headache and fatigue.
Carefully! Ticks are found throughout the country. They are the size of a spot so that a bite can be easily missed and the symptoms can not occur for weeks
Left untreated, the infection can affect the nervous system and even damage the heart.
"The longer the bacterium has to move from the skin to the rest of the body, where it can attack the joints, the heart, and the nervous system, the harder it is to treat," Dr. Sandra Pearson from the charity Lyme Disease Action.
However, the diagnosis is not easy. The standard NHS test tests for antibodies to the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.
If it is positive, a second test, called immunoblot, will look for more specific antibodies.
Both tests have limitations. "Tests performed shortly after a bite can not take Lyme, as it may take six to eight weeks for antibodies to form," Dr. Pearson. Guidelines for Lyme from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) make the tests clear can deliver incorrect results.
For Lyme disease, NICE recommends three weeks of antibiotics, usually doxycline; and if that does not work, another antibiotic – usually amoxycillin – for 21 days.
Blair – who only had doxycycline for two weeks – still felt unwell by November 2015 and sent a blood sample for a Lymphocyte Transformation Test (LTT) to Germany looking for more bacterial activity than antibodies.
Increase: Confirmed cases of Lyme disease have increased from 346 in 2003 to 1,700 in the past year, according to Public Health England
Dr. Pearson says there are questions about the accuracy of the test that are not available in the UK.
Blair's results showed signs of infection. He tried alternative therapies, but his problems continued. "I would try to run, but then I feel so bad that I have to sleep for three hours," he says.
In February 2017, 18 months after being bitten, Blair privately paid an infectious disease consultant in Ireland. Further tests showed that the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium was still active and given three antibiotics. After nine months of treatment, his symptoms finally improved.
However, some believe that finding more tests is not always helpful.
"Many who negate the Lyme test in the NHS are encouraged by online forums to send blood to private laboratories overseas," says Stella Huyshe-Shires of Lyme Disease Action.
"These labs sometimes use tests that are not specific to Lyme. So a person can get a "positive" result. , , and believe that Lyme is the cause of their problems, if it is not. "
However, a more detailed test proved to be elusive. "I have had problems for three years because I have no knowledge of Lyme in the NHS," says Blair.
"It should not be that way."
BLAIR's new album 7 Blood is now available (Glowb Records).