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Reydon woman's petition bid to put Lyme disease in spotlight

PUBLISHED: 11:00 01 February 2012 | UPDATED: 13:55 01 February 2012

Denise Longman who suffers from Lyme disease with her petition to raise awareness of the disease.

Denise Longman who suffers from Lyme disease with her petition to raise awareness of the disease.

© Archant 2012

A north Suffolk woman is taking her campaign to the Prime Minister's doorstep to raise awareness of a tick-borne disease which "ruined her life".

Denise Longman has suffered for 26 years with Lyme disease after she was infected from a tick bite while holidaying in Scotland.

And now the 60 year old is determined to improve the profile of the disease, which she claims is wide-spread in the UK and misdiagnosed by doctors.

At present, more than 1,000 people have signed her petition which is being presented at Downing Street on Wednesday May 9.

It is demanding for special clinics to be set up to deal with the infected, and for doctors to receive more training in tick-borne infections.

Meanwhile, Mrs Longman is also calling for improvements to be made to treatment by giving suffering antibiotics until they are better.

She said: “Only people with pots of money are getting treatment. My life has been ruined by Lyme disease. I cannot afford private treatment and I never expected the NHS to be denying the science of long-term infection in Lyme. They are not even trying different protocols to address the matter. Are they frightened of using too many antibiotics on people? Why do they give people with Acne antibiotics for years and not be bothered. Why aren’t they helping us?”

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread to humans by infected ticks, which are found in woodland areas and feed on the blood of animals and humans.

In its early stages, the infection materialises in the form of a red circular rash that develops around the area of the bite about three to 30 days after the person is bitten.

The disease can develop into flu-like symptoms, and if untreated, can have an incapacitating effect leading to chronic fatigue syndrome and neurological symptoms such as temporary paralysis of the facial muscles.

Reports earlier this year showed the disease had increased due to more people taking part in outdoor sports.

But Mrs Longman, of Reydon, near Southwold, is more concerned about doctors misdiagnosing Lyme disease as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (or ME) where people can also suffer from severe fatigue.

Mrs Longman, who was technician at Manchester University, told of how she has been unable to work for years because of the severity of her symptoms.

She said: “I found it difficult to work because of the pain, dizzyness, repeated infections, and inability to concentrate. Then that would vary and I would pick up a bit and I would be able to be back at work again.

“The very first episode in July 1985 was the worst kind of fever and flu I had ever had. I was in bed for two weeks. I was immobile and every bit of me hurt especially my neck and my head. I couldn’t even speak and say how bad it was. It then repeated itself six weeks later, and it was almost malarial like in a way. And since then I found out the ticks can carry a malaria like bug.

“After that my life gradually fell to bits because I had not time to socialising because at the weekend I would be sleeping. I got less and less friends. I couldn’t even express how ill I felt I was becoming like a zombie and kept telling myself ‘I must get on the bus and get to work and try and recover when I am there’.”

If you would like to sign the petition, you download a printable copy at www.counsellingme.com/UKLymePetition.pdf, or sign online at www.ipetitions.com/petition/uklymepetition. For more details, visit www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk

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