Lyme disease

Information for environment sector organisations on raising awareness amongst staff and visitors

This resource aims to build on the work Forest Research led on assessing and communicating animal disease risks in the countryside. This project has involved a literature review and the production of a Briefing Note aimed at environment sector organisations on how they might raise awareness and communicate to their staff and the visitors to the land they own or manage, about Lyme disease. The work is also linked to the development of an internal awareness raising campaign for staff developed by Forestry Commission Scotland. The review of literature was undertaken to explore how the risk of Lyme disease is communicated and what behaviours can reduce risk, and how these can be encouraged, and enabled.

Lyme disease is the most common tick borne disease in Europe. People can be bitten by ticks when they come into contact with vegetation or animals on which ticks are not fully attached. Contact with ticks can take place in parks, gardens, woodlands, the wider countryside, and anywhere with dense vegetation. Checking for ticks after visiting these places is important to reduce risk.

The objectives of for developing this resource were to:

  • Build on the research on assessing and communicating animal disease risk funded by the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme 
  • Adapt the risk communication framework developed in the above project for use with staff of environment sector organisations and visitors to the land managed by these organisations
  • Produce an accessible Briefing Note based on current evidence
  • Provide the list of references identified in the Briefing Note.

The Briefing Note primarily focuses on providing a risk communication framework that can be used by environment sector organisations to consider and develop communication on what behaviours and preventative measures can be taken by staff and visitors to reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease. The framework enables organisations to consider - behaviours, the target audience, where information should be provided and how. It also helps organisations to consider points of intervention for communication and action, for example before a visit to nature, during a visit, after a visit.

The framework could be used directly with staff and visitors to involve them in co-creating and co-producing appropriate communication and awareness raising approaches.

Related research

Forestry Commission Scotland check for ticks 

Accessing and communicating animal disease risk in the countryside

Visitor Safety in the Countryside Group

University of the Highland and Islands check for ticks 

For more information about the topic please contact:

Liz O’Brien

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