Lee Farmer, 46, pictured on one his adventures, is a victim of Lyme disease, which can lead to crippling illness and even death
An action man who has climbed Mount Everest and braved some of the world’s most venomous jungle snakes and tarantula spiders has been floored by a ‘killer’ bug the size of a sesame seed a short walk from his country home.
The summer’s heatwave is feared to have sparked a plague of disease-carrying ticks which lurk in the undergrowth and bite into the skin of humans walking past.
Lee Farmer, 46, from Hampshire, is one of the latest victims of Lyme disease, which the tiny insects carry and can lead to crippling illness and even death.
Former England rugby international Matt Dawson needed heart surgery after he was bitten by a tick in a London park in 2015 and Lyme disease spread through his body.
Mountaineer Mr Farmer, of Woolton Hill, told today how, just like Dawson, he became ‘weak as kitten’ for weeks after he contracted the disease recently.
Mr Farmer, a professional outdoor instructor, is still recovering after he was bitten by a tick while walking on the North Wessex Downs near his home in June.
The insects thrive in hot, dry weather so this summer has been ideal – and health experts are warning parents not to let children play near patches of bracken, one of the bug’s favourite hidey-holes.
Ticks also attach themselves to sheep and deer, and are liable to turn up anywhere in the countryside if conditions are right.
When they bite into human skin they leave a tell-tale rash which is shaped like a small bullseye and it rapidly spreads the potentially deadly bacteria through the body.
Mr Farmer said: ‘It’s ironic that I’ve gone from feeling strong as an ox in May and was leading a team of mountaineers to the summit of Island Peak in the Nepalese Himalayas, then, by the end of June, as weak as a kitten after being bitten by a tick on my thigh.
‘Now, I’m slowly on the road to recovery thanks to my GP being aware of the disease and the prompt appropriate treatment given to me.
‘I had the classic bullseye rash that kept growing for about two weeks and it didn’t stop spreading until it reached about 14 inches on my lower torso and thigh.
‘I didn’t realise it was infected until my kidneys and muscles starting really hurting and I was feeling ill generally.
‘That was the prompt to go to the local GP surgery, where I was immediately diagnosed with Lyme disease and put on a long course of high-strength antibiotics.’
He said ticks will flourish in the heatwave and he’s urging people to look out for them.
Typical symptoms of Lyme disease are the fast-spreading bullseye rash, headaches, a stiff neck, extreme fatigue, muscle and joint pain and super-sensitivity to light and sound.