An East Lancashire man is warning people about the dangers of Lyme disease after it forced him to give up his job and spend weeks in bed since contracting it himself.

Dan Duerden, from Blacko, is urging people to get any suspicious bites tested for the bacterial disease that can be spread to humans by infected ticks.

Dan, 23, believes he contracted Lyme disease last summer while shearing sheep on his family’s farm in Blacko.

Lancashire Telegraph: Dan Duerden shearing a sheepDan Duerden shearing a sheep

He said: “On one of these jobs I must have been bitten while shearing.

“I came home and saw a circular rash on my elbow and thought it was ringworm.”

For the next four months, Dan continued with his job and life until arm pain forced him to seek medical attention.

He said: “Eventually I started struggling to shear and my arm was stiff and painful. I carried on thinking it was just carpal tunnel.

“One day I was working and found I couldn’t shear anymore; I almost felt drunk.”

He went to hospital where he was tested for Lyme disease – but the blood test came back negative.

It wasn’t until a later visit to a private hospital in Hertfordshire, four months after being bitten by the tick, did he receive a positive result.

Lancashire Telegraph: Dan DuerdenDan Duerden

Dan said: “I’ve been on a downwards spiral ever since and have been put on an 18 week course of antibiotics.”

Double vision, painful joints, brain fog and fatigue are just some of the symptoms he periodically experiences.

He said: “The last few months have been absolute hell – I have spent so many weeks in bed.

“I try to read my body and know when to stop and when it’s too painful.

“It’s just so debilitating – I know it can lead heart problems which is terrifying. The list of consequences is endless.”

While the physical pain is still a battle, Dan says the mental impacts of the disease are “far worse”.

He said: “It’s attacked me mentally in the last few months.

“The final straw was when I went to round up the sheep and I just couldn’t figure out how to do it…I just had a breakdown.

“I had to go and tell my family I couldn’t do the task.”

Dan is speaking out in the hope of raising awareness of Lyme disease.

He said: “If you see a bite please get it checked especially if you see a bite that looks like a ‘bullseye’.

“There will be so many people out there who have it and don’t even know.

“The key to cure it is to catch it early. Hopefully, with some time and rest my symptoms will go soon.”

Lancashire Telegraph: The rash may look like a bullseye on a dartboard.The rash may look like a bullseye on a dartboard.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Not all ticks in England carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

But it's still important to be aware of ticks and to safely remove them as soon as possible, just in case.

Ticks that may cause Lyme disease are found all over the UK, but high-risk places include grassy and wooded areas in southern and northern England and the Scottish Highlands.

Here are the symptoms of Lyme disease according to the NHS:

  • A circular or oval shape rash around a tick bite can be an early symptom of Lyme disease in some people.
  • The rash can appear up to three months after being bitten by an infected tick, but usually appears within one to four weeks. It can last for several weeks.
  • The rash can have a darker or lighter area in the centre and might gradually spread. It's not usually hot or itchy.
  • The rash may be flat, or slightly raised, and look pink, red, or purple when it appears on white skin. It can be harder to see the rash on brown and black skin and it may look like a bruise.

Some people also get flu-like symptoms a few days or weeks after they were bitten by an infected tick, such as:

  • a high temperature, or feeling hot and shivery
  • headache
  • muscle and joint pain
  • tiredness and loss of energy

Some people with Lyme disease develop more severe symptoms months or years later.

This is more likely if treatment is delayed.

These more severe symptoms may include:

  • pain and swelling in joints
  • nerve problems – such as pain or numbness
  • heart problems
  • trouble with memory or concentration