Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk has been elected as Vice Chair of a brand new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) focused on Lyme disease.
The group of cross party MPs and peers have united in Parliament to support constituents suffering from Lyme disease. The Group will be holding an Inquiry to investigate the problems faced by those suffering with the disease. The APPG hopes to work with both the U.S. and Germany to ensure that the UK is on the forefront of research and development of cures for Lyme disease.
Speaking on his new role, Mr Chalk said; “I am in regular contact with constituents who are suffering from Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a complex infection, and there are real challenges in diagnosis and treatment. The aim of our Inquiry will be to raise awareness of the disease and bring together the most up to date research from across the world.”
Mr Chalk explained: “Lyme disease is one of the fastest growing diseases in the Western world. The National Health Society estimated that there are 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of Lyme disease in the UK and Wales alone each year. Estimates suggest that more than 300,000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year in the US and more than 65,000 cases a year are diagnosed in Europe.
Early symptoms include tiredness and muscle aches. But if left untreated the disease can cause pain in the joints, paralysis of facial muscles, mental confusion and heart problems. Many aspects of the disease are still unclear and there is not even one consistent terminology that defines 'chronic Lyme disease'.
“Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by ticks to humans. It is often picked up by people who spend significant amounts of time outdoors. We need more research to help develop reliable diagnostic tests, identify sub-populations of patients who are most likely to benefit from antibiotic treatment, and ultimately to ensure that Lyme disease does not reach pandemic levels.''