As part of my work for Scotland's Moorland Forum, I have been liaising with the Scottish Government about the work of the Sheep Tick Group that was established by the former Minister for Environment, Mike Russell MSP. The work of this Group has not progressed beyond the issue of a Tick Factsheet in April, last year. This factsheet was aimed at raising awareness of the general public to tick issues and from a land management perspective it is of limited value.
The Government's proposal is to split the Sheep Tick Group into two: one subgroup to consider human health issues and the other deal with animal health, and clearly it is this second group that would be of most interest to us and hopefully this will encourage progress.
The Health Protection Service website includes data on the number of Lyme disease cases and the increase from 3 in 1999 to a provisional figure of 285 in 2008 is a clear indication of why the Scottish Government is showing an interest in this disease.
I will continue to 'bang the drum' to keep tick issues as high up the agenda as possible, but are we doing enough to respond to their increasing range and abundance? If not, what else should we be doing?