Walkers are being warned to watch out for tick bites that can cause Lyme disease while trekking the West Highland Way.
The warning comes as parts of the 96-mile long distance path, which starts in Milngavie, experience a huge increase in tick numbers due to the earlier mild winter conditions.
Louise Mcfarlane from Milngavie Information Centre said as long as some simple precautions are taken, walkers will be fine.
She said: “At this time of year we have thousands of people doing the Way and like most big undertakings, a little bit of preparation goes a long way.
“Ticks are opportunists and sit on ferns waiting for warm blooded animals to brush past them. Humans are as good a meal for them as a deer or cow.”
Louise added that the best way to guard against Lyme disease is not to get ticks on you in the first place.
She said: “If people are walking through ferns they should cover up. This can be as simple as wearing long trousers or tucking trousers into socks.
“We also sell tick removing cards and sprays that offer quite a lot of protection from tick bites.”
Echoing these comments, Thomas O’Grady (53) from Drymen, who was diagnosed with Lymes after contracting it several years ago while cycling in Garadhban Forest near his home, said: “It is a horrendous illness that destroys peoples’ lives. I just want people to be aware of this. The disease is all over Europe, America, Canada and Australia and they seem to take it more seriously than we do.”
Mr O’Grady has only recently been diagnosed with Lyme disease which can be notoriously difficult to detect in an NHS test.
The small businessman who runs a chauffeur business added: “ Every day I have had some degree of pain. When I was diagnosed it was not by the NHS, but privately in London. Over the last seven years I have had five emergency trips to hospital. This is a disease I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through. “
If you feel you may have contracted Lyme disease consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Symptoms include a bullseye rash, dizziness, lethargy, all-over soreness and pain in the eyes.