Winchester Lyme Disease Clinic Closing

by lmatthews on May 14, 2014

Winchester lyme disease clinic closed england

Winchester Cathedral in southern England, a Lyme disease hotspot.

A specialist Lyme disease clinic is set to close after just six months of serving patients in the UK. The Winchester clinic in Hampshire was set up by Matthew Dryden, a consultant microbiologist at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester in order to better help those who had been beset by the tick-borne infectious disease that is increasingly common in the area. Unfortunately, the clinic’s funding has now run out and will not be being renewed, forcing Dryden to close the facility.

No Permanent Funding for UK Lyme Disease Clinic

Thought to be one of a kind in England, the Winchester clinic was funded as a pilot by the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Now, however, the trust has failed to secure permanent funding from Public Health England and so the clinic is set to close. Dr Dryden is claiming the six months during which he saw patients as a successful venture, having helped over 120 people with Lyme disease in the UK.

The patients he saw had issues related to bacterial infection following exposure to ticks in the English countryside and woodlands. Lyme disease is still not considered a high priority for health initiatives in the UK and so it is perhaps not surprising that the funding for such a clinic was only temporary. However, the clinic was seeing patients from all over England, suggesting that another clinic may gain funding elsewhere, just not in Winchester.

Lyme Disease Diagnosis in the UK

Lyme disease is not always considered during initial patient assessment by doctors in the UK because of a lack of familiarity with the infection and the perception that it is still extremely rare. The infection can cause symptoms in the skin, joints, heart, kidneys, and central nervous system, mimicking a range of diseases and illnesses and confounding many physicians and patients.

South England a Lyme Disease Hot-Spot

With climate change and the spread of ticks, as well as increasing encroachment of people into wooded areas and undeveloped land the incidence of Lyme disease has increased in the UK. This may also be due in part to increasing awareness of the issue, as well as to higher levels of exposure to deer and other animals that host the ticks that carry Lyme disease.

The south of England in particular has seen an increase in cases as more people build houses in the countryside and because of a growing population of deer. The success of conservancy strategies has, unfortunately, led to more people encountering wildlife that may carry ticks capable of transmitting Lyme disease.

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