A FATHER-of-two from East Yorkshire told today how he fell seriously ill after being bitten by a tick while walking in the Lake District.

Kevin Slater, 48, of Holme-on-Spalding Moor, suffered life-threatening Lyme Disease which developed into encephalitis – inflammation of the brain that can cause brain damage, blindness and even death.

He said he was slowly recovering after finally being given strong enough antibiotics, but he was still off work after 11 weeks and had no guarantees he would make a complete recovery.

He said he wanted to call for greater recognition of Lyme Disease among the UK medical profession and also to warn walkers of the dangers, particularly when walking in areas with livestock and long grass or bracken.

“I would advise them always to walk with long sleeved shirts and trousers rather than shorts, and also to tuck their trousers into their socks to prevent ticks crawling up the inside of the trousers,” he said.

“I usually do tuck my trousers in, but didn’t on this occasion.” He also wanted landowners to put up warning signs.

He said the tick, an arachnid that cuts through flesh with barbed teeth before inserting a needle-like feeding tube, bit him when he was walking in Grisedale Valley, Patterdale, during the summer holidays.

“I am convinced it happened when I was walking through a patch of bracken.”

He noticed the parasite clinging to his calf while in the shower a day later.

“It looked like a blood clot,” he said.

“I brushed it and it fell off. I picked it up and could see it had small legs. It was fully engorged – very round and filled with blood.”

The self-employed engineering consultant carried on as normal and had travelled to Germany when he began feeling “very odd” three days later.

“The first feeling was like motion sickness – light-headed and giddy. Then there was a feeling of nausea.”

Back in the UK, he visited various doctors, but says the antibiotics prescribed were insufficiently strong until he eventually saw an expert in the disease who prescribed a much stronger dose.