RETIRED doctor and former Bournemouth mayor, Dr John Millward, has revealed how a tick bite 12 years ago has led to a long battle with Lyme disease.

Now he and his wife Vicky who live at Throop, are keen to raise awareness of the bacterial illness which is estimated to affect around 3,000 people in the UK every year.

Dr Millward, now 82, who was Bournemouth mayor in 1994, says many people are unaware that a tick the size of a poppy seed can infect them with such a serious and debilitating disease.

He told the Echo: "My early symptoms were pains in the hip at odd times which got worse, and then other symptoms like forgetfulness which you put down to age."

His health has now deteriorated to such an extent that some days he is unable to walk and on one occasion he couldn't think how to switch on his computer.

"I thought I'd had a stroke. It was only last year after a series of tests last year that we realised I had Lyme disease."

Most ticks in the UK are not infected by the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, but experts are predicting a dramatic increase in cases because of the warmer weather conditions.

His wife Vicky believes her husband was bitten by a tick whilst on holiday in France as she recalls seeing a rash which is described as looking like a target on a dartboard and can be an early symptom.

Dr Millward adds: "Although the number of cases is increasing in this country, we are still not aware of it in the same way. In other parts of the world, parents routinely check their kids at the end of the day."

Dr Millward spent more than 30 years in general practice before he left to focus on homeopathy and nutrition.

"I'd heard of it in practice but I'd never seen it or treated anyone with it. We need more awareness amongst GPs too."


After a human has been bitten by a tick, it usually takes 24-48 hours for the bacteria in the tick to pass into the human.

Lyme disease can often be treated effectively with antibiotics if it's detected early on. But if it's not treated or treatment is delayed, there's a risk you could develop severe and long-lasting symptoms.

How to remove a tick