‘Children could have Lyme disease without knowing it’ – Letchworth man says he contracted disease from ticks infesting deer at Norton Common
- Credit: Archant
Hundreds of visitors to Norton Common could have a potentially life-wrecking disease and not even know it – that’s according to a Letchworth man who is trying to raise awareness after two blood tests failed to spot the infection.
Jonathan Richards, of Bittern Way, says he contracted Lyme disease after being bitten by ticks infesting the muntjac deer at Norton Common – and that he was only diagnosed after insisting on a third blood test.
“Before it was realised what I had I had blurred vision, fainting, blackouts, headaches and acute tiredness,” said Mr Richards.
“I would imagine hundreds of people who walk through Norton Common, including many children playing there, have Lyme disease without knowing it.
“Doctors do not generally look for Lyme disease in blood tests – too expensive apparently.
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“These ticks, once they have drunk blood from the deer, settle on all the undergrowth and plants, awaiting people or dogs.
“As Lyme disease is a killer disease I feel the public should be warned about this, and not to stray from the footpaths – and of course dogs should be on leads.
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“These deadly ticks can leave dogs and then go on to people, sometimes days later.
“If I had not realised what this was it would have killed me, especially since I got meningitis again through this – dreadful disease.”
North Herts District Council, which owns and runs the site, has moved to install warning signage at Norton Common in response to Mr Richards’ claim.
Councillor Lynda Needham, leader of the district council, said: “Our environmental services team is aware of the claim by Mr Richards that he has contracted Lyme disease from the muntjac deer at Norton Common and we have responded to his letter.
“North Herts is not an area known to have a high population of ticks, according to Public Health England, and we have not encountered this issue on a site within the district.
“Infected ticks have been known to live on all mammals, including rabbits, squirrels, birds, and foxes, not just muntjac deer. As such it would not be an option to remove all the animals from Norton Common.
“Also it is important to consider that mammals tend not to remain in one location, roaming countryside and gardens. This does mean that Mr Roberts could have contracted the disease from another location.
“However, we do propose to put up signage within Norton Common and will be working with Friends of Norton Common to get information posted on the noticeboards already on site.”