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Areas of woodland can harbour ticks

Story from the woods:

When Joanne Drayson regularly walked her dogs in the woodland near her home in Guildford, Surrey, she was unaware that a tick the size of a poppy seed would infect her with a serious and debilitating disease. "I had this strange symptom, which I can only describe as whole body rigidness. It kept recurring," she says.

Her health deteriorated to such an extent that she was unable to lift her legs or arms. The pain in her hips meant she was unable to climb stairs in her own home.

In the end, she was retired on health grounds from her job in the civil service.

Mrs Drayson now realizes what happened to trigger the extreme fatigue, joint pain and stiffness that plagued her for more than four years

In 2003, she remembers finding a tick on her foot, which caused a rash. At the same time she had flu-like symptoms that lasted several weeks.

When Mrs Drayson was bitten again two years later, she developed symptoms similar to arthritis, but doctors still did not suspect that the ticks had infected her with Lyme disease.

I had removed ticks from my dogs for over 30 years, but didn't really know much about them.

"There are probably thousands of people who could end up like me."

Devastating impact It was 2007 before she was given a clinical diagnosis, after her GP prescribed antibiotics for a chest infection and they dramatically improved her symptoms.