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Park needs ‘tick warnings’, says ill man
Richmond Park should put up clearer signs warning parks users to beware of tick bites according to a man whose life was "devastated" by a debilitating disease caught from the mite.
Peter Kemp, 51, of Teddington, loved nothing more than walking and taking photographs in Richmond or Bushy Park. Everything changed when in 1991 he began to suffer crippling migraines for up to five days at a time, severe fatigue and digestive problems.
For 15 years he believed he had ME until he was diagnosed as having Lyme disease in December last year. About 600 people a year in the UK are infected with the disease which damages the nervous system, leading to paralysis, major loss of energy and severe pain - it can be cured with antibiotics if caught early enough.
Mr Kemp said: "I was put to antibiotics and I have seen a real improvement." He felt the years of pain could have been avoided had he known about the disease and how to protect himself from infection.
He said: "I was a keen walker and I spent a lot of time in RIchmond and Bushy Parks. The year I was infected I also spent time in Suffolk, Devon and Somerset, so I don't know where I caught it for sure.
"But I did have three large bite marks and did not take any notice of them as I don't think people do.
"If people have an innocent walk in Richmond Park they can catch an infection that can wreck their lives. It's really tragic."
Twickenham's MP, Vincent Cable, has joined Mr Kemp in urging the Royal Parks to highlight the danger via park notices.
Dr Cable has also asked the Health Minister to make available to GPs and hospitals the latest information on treatment.
Adam Curtis, assistant manager at Richmond Park, said: "We do put information on the notice boards at the times of year that ticks are more present. We also liaised with local doctors so that they appreciate there are parks nearby and they should liaise with us if issues arise."