Lyme Disease

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 28th January 2015.

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Photo of Lord Greaves Lord Greaves Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the extent of Lyme disease in the United Kingdom in (1) sheep, (2) other farm animals, (3) domestic animals, and (4) wild animals; and what action they are taking to reduce the number of infected animals.

Photo of Lord de Mauley Lord de Mauley The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Defra has made no formal assessment of the extent of Lyme disease in the United Kingdom in livestock, domestic or wild animals. However a number of surveillance studies have shown that the main carriers of the Borrelia organism that causes Lyme disease in people and dogs are small wild mammals (for example mice and voles) and ground nesting birds. Other studies have looked at the role of cattle, sheep and deer as hosts for the intermediate tick host, although these species do not maintain infection with the organism. No action is taken to reduce the number of infected wild animals. Action to reduce the number of infected wild animals could only be taken at disproportionate cost.

Control of the disease in people is focussed on public awareness of the importance of preventing tick bites. Factsheets on tick bite risk and prevention are produced by Public Health England and Lyme Disease Action, with further information for patients published by NHS Choices. Veterinary advice on the prevention of infection in dogs is widely available through private practitioners and a vaccine for dogs is now licensed.

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