Thank you for your interest in our annual ‘Wake Up To Lyme’ campaign for schools!
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and our campaign aims to raise awareness of how to prevent tick bites and what you should do if you’re bitten. We would be delighted if your school would take part!
What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread to humans through the bite of an infected tick.
The government estimates that there are 3,000-4,000 cases of Lyme disease every year in England and Wales. However, research published in 2019 showed that real numbers could be at least three times higher.
What Risk Do Ticks Pose?
The number of ticks in the UK is on the rise, which puts us all at greater risk of being bitten. Spring and summer months pose the greatest threat, but we can be infected during any season.
Whilst the UK’s green spaces are some of the safest in the world, tick bites are probably the highest risk we face outdoors. Ticks are usually found in grassy areas, woodland, and heathland, but have also been found in urban parks and gardens.
Many school activities such as scavenger hunts, PE lessons, and outdoor excursions offer mental and physical health benefits, but it’s important to enjoy them safely.
The most likely means of Lyme disease transmission is walking through long grass; something that many children love to do during warmer months. Smaller children tend to be bitten above the waist, so it’s important to check common bite sites such as around the hairline.
It is crucial that we raise awareness, as ticks can be as small as poppy seeds and have a painless bite, so they are often missed. Checking for ticks after spending time outdoors is of the utmost importance.
Symptoms can also be delayed, so many people do not realise they have been bitten. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to preventing possible long-term complications, such as neurological and cardiac problems.
How Can Schools Help?
Schools can play a vital role in raising awareness of Lyme disease throughout May, and taking the correct steps to protect staff and pupils from tick bites.
Resources For Schools
Please take a look at our free resources for schools listed below. These include guidelines for staff to follow on outdoor excursions.
- Ideas for lesson plans, covering all age groups.
- Downloadable Wake Up To Lyme posters and leaflets. If you would like to order hard copies, please send us an email.
- Short awareness animation to help inform parents and pupils of the dangers of tick bites via email, or in your next school newsletter.
- School trip checklist and risk assessment to complete before outdoor excursions.
- A guide to removing ticks safely.
- A guide to Lyme disease for school nurses.
- Free webinar training on how to prevent tick bites and an educational video explaining the different tick life stages.
- A guide for parents on how to support a child with acute Lyme disease.
Fun Awareness And Fundraising Activities
During May, we would be delighted if you would consider holding a Lyme disease awareness cake sale, summer fair, or a dress-down day to raise awareness and funds for us. Why not take part in Wear Lime For Lyme Day on May 5th?
Some more ideas for fun activities can be found here!
Poster Design Competition
As part of our campaign, we are excited to be running a poster design competition for children to raise awareness of ticks and how to prevent bites! Age-appropriate ideas can be found in the lesson plans on our website. There are three categories: Reception to Year 2, Year 3-6, and Year 7-13.
If your school would like to take part, please get designing and then take a vote on your school’s favourite poster! Please email us a copy of the winning entry by Friday 26th May, along with the school name, the pupil’s name and their age. Winning posters will be used as part of our campaign, and will be announced on our website and social media!
Case Study: Our Daughter and Lyme Disease
School would call us and say *Anna was feeling faint and dizzy, that she had a migraine, or her heart was racing, and she was nauseous. Sometimes it was that she had severe pain in her legs, and other times it was that she could not see properly.
We were told Anna had chronic fatigue syndrome. Her health continued to deteriorate, school attendance became less frequent and a few months later, she required a wheelchair to get around. Shortly after that, her symptoms became so severe that school was no longer a possibility.
Jumping six months ahead, after a lot of research, we had located the right doctor, received a clinical diagnosis and the correct testing, and were informed Anna had Lyme disease, Bartonella and other co-infections. She was very sick indeed.
The clinic is a four-hour trip from our home in Cornwall, but it was worth every minute of the journey to finally be heard and to receive the necessary support.
Anna was always such a sporty and active girl… Six foot tall and a keen rower, netball and football player, a member of the local Girl Guides, helper at the Brownies… she played the flute and violin. She was part of the leadership of the ‘Girls in Sport’ programme at school, and was the highest of flyers academically (in top sets), showing a keen interest in engineering and science. Yet, what felt like overnight, she had to stop school, and lost her friends, her clubs and her social life.
Understandably, her mental health began to decline as quickly as her physical health. She lost 46lb in weight, was very pale, and struggled to talk. She was so sad, so weak, so quiet, and her thought patterns were concerning. The clinic she attends has a psychologist trained in chronic illness, so Anna started to see him via Skype. This has been one of the best things we have done. Anna has gradually come out of the dark place, and she continues to work with the psychologist every week. We would advise any parents to get mental health support for their children as soon as possible.”
*The name Anna has been used as the family wish to remain anonymous.