LymeMAP

Ticks and Lyme disease are issues of increasing concern to Highland communities, especially so for those who are exposed on a regular basis including forestry workers, gamekeepers, land and estate managers, and their employees. People can also be exposed through more ‘everyday’ and leisure-based activities, such as dog walking or gardening.

Project Aims:

  • Explore feasibility of using satellite data to map tick presence in the Highlands of Scotland – if it would be useful to people, and how they would use it.
  • Explore what is missing from information currently available about ticks and Lyme disease.
  • Co-design risk mitigation strategies for use by those at risk of exposure to ticks, and therefore Lyme disease, using community engagement methodologies.

The study aims to test ways of gathering local knowledge on outdoor behaviours, as well as exploring the awareness of ticks and Lyme disease in the Scottish Highlands. Using a community engagement approach UHI designed a mixed-methods study to allow us to gain a better understanding of the experiences of those communities at risk of exposure and with concerns about the issue. The information we collected was used to co-design risk mitigation strategies suitable for use within the communities.

The first strategy, which is currently being piloted, is a package of awareness raising materials that includes a series of tick check cards – to encourage people to check for ticks, a bug and tick treasure hunt game – that encourages active use of outdoors spaces to learn about map reading, route navigation, bug and habitat identification, and awareness of behaviours to implement in areas where there may be ticks present, and an online toolkit-style resource with downloadable components that can be used on personal or organisational communication, such as a website, leaflet or event information. The second, and currently in application for funding to develop further, is a smartphone application that uses citizen science and satellite data to generate maps illustrating probably of tick presence. It is anticipated that the app will also provide users with information about ticks and Lyme disease.

Project Team

  • Principal Investigator: Prof. George Gunn, SRUC.
  • Co-Investigator: Dr Sarah-Anne Munoz, Rural Health and Wellbeing, University of the Highlands and Islands.
  • Dr Jenny Hall
  • Dr Kate Stephen
  • Contact: Rural Health and Wellbeing, University of the Highlands and Islands
  • Funders: The Robertson Trust, European Space Agency
  • Our Partners: NHS Highland RD&I, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Environmental Research Group Oxford (ERGO), AVIA-GIS (Zoersel, Belgium).

Website and blog

Publications

March 2016: IOSH Rural Industries Group Forestry Sector Update: https://www.iosh.co.uk/Membership/Our-membership-network/Our-Groups/Rural-Industries-Group/Past-events.aspx

June 2016: Rethinking Remote Conference, Journal of Remote and Rural Health: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/showarticlenew.asp?ArticleID=4095

Using a Community Engagement Approach to Encourage Lyme Disease Risk Mitigation (journal article, forthcoming)

Events

August – October 2016: Tick and Lyme disease awareness raising materials pilot phase – www.checkforticks.org.uk and at Abriachan Forest

October 2016: Outdoor Recreation Conference (Pitlochry) – behaviour change workshop (Context: Community engagement, co-designing behaviour change interventions and Lyme disease)

November 2016: Rural Health and Wellbeing Showcase (Inverness) – research update and demonstration of materials/poster presentation

November 2006: UHI Research Conference (Inverness) – research update and demonstration of materials/poster presentation

November 2016: NHS Highland Research, Development & Innovation Annual Conference (Inverness) – poster presentation

November 2016: Rural Health and Wellbeing Seminar Series (Inverness) - research update and demonstration of materials/poster presentation

May 2015: LymeMAP Launch Event (Centre for Health Science, Inverness)

June – December 2015: Community Engagement Workshops Phase One (Lochaber, Cairngorms National Park, Balloch Inverness, Forestry Commission Scotland)

September 2015: Inaugural UHI Health and Wellbeing Research Cluster (Centre for Health Science, Inverness) – Oral presentation: LymeMAP

September 2016: Texas A&M University visit (Inverness) – research update and rural research discussion

September 2016: National Access Forum (Perth) - research update and demonstration of materials

September 2016: Heath Protection Scotland Lyme Borreliosis Sub-Group meeting (Glasgow) – research update and demonstration of materials

March 2016: IOSH Rural Industries: Forestry Specialists (Environment Agency, Penrith) – Oral presentation: Ticks and Lyme disease in Highland

April – July 2016: Community Engagement Workshops Phase Two (Lochaber, Cairngorms National Park, Balloch Inverness, Forestry Commission Scotland)

May 2016: Rethinking Remote: Innovate Solutions in Remote Healthcare Conference (Eden Court, Inverness) – Oral Presentation: Using a community engagement approach to encourage Lyme disease risk mitigation