Wales

Lyme disease like 'waking with a hangover' every day

Mark Morgan

A man forced to quit work because of Lyme disease hopes pop star Justin Bieber's admission he has it will raise awareness of the condition.

Mark Morgan, from Cardiff, said the illness is so debilitating he can no longer work because of the "constant symptoms of anxiety and fatigue".

There are about 3,000 cases of the disease - a bacterial infection spread by ticks - each year in the UK.

Ex-engineer Mr Morgan said people do not understand its long-lasting impact.

He has been experiencing symptoms that could be attributed to Lyme disease since puberty.

The 54-year-old said it became "increasingly difficult" to hold down a job as he got older because of the long term effects of the disease and in 2015 he had to stop working completely.

It got to the point Mr Morgan was sleeping in his car on his lunch break so he could finish his day at work.

He said people often do not understand that his symptoms of fatigue and anxiety are severe.

"People often remark that I look OK, but I don't feel OK," Mr Morgan said.

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Media captionMorven-May MacCallum said that the disease has "dominated" her life

He said he was "quite pleased" to get the diagnosis after his illness was dismissed by doctors, but he did not realise how difficult the condition was to treat.

"People need to understand that it is a serious, potentially long-term condition. The symptoms are dreadful," he said.

"People need take precautions to avoid being bitten by ticks and, if bitten, seek immediate medical treatment."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bieber said he will be sharing more about his illness in his upcoming YouTube documentary

Earlier this month, pop star Justin Bieber announced he had been living with Lyme Disease for what he described as a "rough couple of years".

The Canadian took to Instagram to share that he was suffering from the chronic infection after speculation he had a drug problem.

Bieber told his 124 million Instagram followers the disease had affected his "skin, brain function, energy, and overall health".

Singer Avril Lavigne and supermodel Bella Hadid have previously revealed that they also suffer from Lyme disease.

Bieber's supermodel wife, Hailey Bieber, defended her husband on Twitter against criticism from those "trying to downplay the severity of Lyme disease".

"Please do your research," she urged them.

A spokeswoman for charity Caudwell LymeCo said the news about Bieber shows the disease "really can affect anyone" and hoped his announcement would "reach a new audience who might be suffering similar symptoms without knowing the root cause".

What is Lyme disease?

  • A bacterial infection carried by some species of ticks and about 13% in the UK are believed to be infected
  • It cannot be passed on from person to person
  • Symptoms - including the bulls-eye rash, fatigue and fever - usually develop around three weeks after a bite
  • The majority of those who take the full three-week course of antibiotics make a full recovery
  • The New Forest and the Scottish Highlands are known Lyme disease hotspots - but people should take care wherever there is long grass
  • The NHS test looks at antibodies the body produces, which can take some weeks to reach detectable levels

Source: Public Health England/NHS

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption The characteristic Lyme disease "bullseye" rash develops around a tick bite

Lyme Disease UK said if the condition is diagnosed early it can usually be treated with antibiotics, which are key to helping reduce acute cases.

A spokeswoman said: "When celebrities use their platform to raise awareness it's a reminder that the illness doesn't discriminate.

"Even high profile sufferers can have a very hard time getting an accurate diagnosis and adequate treatment."

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