Lothian MSP Miles Briggs calls for action to tackle disease which struck his dad

Potentially lethal Lyme Disease is often misdiagnosed or not treated effectively

Tuesday, 19th November 2019, 6:00 am
Miles Briggs says his father was never the same after contracting Lyme Disease

LOTHIAN MSP Miles Briggs is backing a campaign to tackle a debilitating illness which left his dad bed-ridden for months.

The number of cases of potentially lethal Lyme Disease - picked up from tick bites - increased by 42 per cent in Scotland last year.

Lyme disease - which can leave victims with debilitating fatigue and muscle pain - is often misdiagnosed or treated ineffectively.

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And the increase in cases - 238 last year - has led to calls for better research and resources to tackle the spread of the disease.

Mr Briggs, who is the Scottish Tories’ health spokesman, said: “Despite the fact that Scotland has some of the highest rates of diagnosed Lyme disease in the UK, there are still questions about the length of time we treat victims, and how much more the government needs to be doing to raise public awareness and fund research.

“I’ve written to the Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood about these issues, but after speaking to people whose lives have been destroyed because of Lyme’s disease, I’m in no doubt something radical needs to be done.”

His father, James Briggs, was bitten by a tick in 1994, when Miles was 11, and contracted Lyme Disease, which led to him being bed-ridden for months.

“Dad ran his own forestry business and worked in Perthshire and the Highlands felling trees.

“He was always an active man until he suddenly developed a facial palsy.

“He became desperately ill and was admitted to Perth Royal Infirmary and we really worried whether he would pull through.

“In those days very little was generally known about tick bites, and it was some weeks before we finally got told he was suffering the effects of Lyme’s.

“The doctors and nursing staff at Perth Royal Infirmary had been brilliant with him, and we are eternally grateful to them for the care he received, but he was never the same and spent many years suffering dreadful pains and fatigue.”

Mr Briggs senior suffered from arthritis linked to Lyme Disease. He died two years ago.

The Scottish Parliament is currently considering a petition calling for increased awareness of Lyme Disease and a review of treatment guidelines.