A North East MP has joined a campaign for urgent action to tackle lyme disease.
The illness, also known as Lyme Borreliosis, is a bacterial infection spread to humans by infected ticks.
However, concerns have been raised that the true number of people suffering from it is not known, and that there needs to be greater awareness of the disease among the public and healthcare professionals.
Lyme disease is widespread throughout the UK, yet many people are still unaware of the risks.
Easington MP Grahame Morris has backed an effort to raise awareness of it.
The call has been made by the About Time for Lyme, Lyme Disease Patient Support, Viras, Lyme Aid, Lyme Research UK and Lyme Disease Northern Ireland.
Doctors need to be trained to recognise the symptoms and make a clinical diagnosis rather than relying on tests which need improving.
An event was held with Lyme Disease specialists, doctors and charities in Parliament regarding the growing problem of Lyme Disease in the UK.
Speaking after the Amalgamated Lyme Disease Group event held in Parliament, Mr Morris said: “More and more people are suffering from Lyme Disease, but it is a disease which many healthcare professionals and ordinary people do not know anything about.
“We urgently need new measures to determine the true incidence, prevalence and risk of Lyme Disease in the UK, and an awareness campaign for healthcare professionals and for the public, otherwise more and more will be left without appropriate treatment.”
The government has commissioned three independent reviews, into testing, treatment and transmission, and initiated the creation of NICE guidelines for the illness.
However these guidelines are not due for completion until 2018 and the current status of the reviews is not known.
In the meantime, to avoid cases being missed, doctors should be made aware of the symptoms of Lyme disease and the option of making clinical diagnoses.
The early symptoms of the condition can include a distinctive circular rash at the site of the tick bite, usually around three to 30 days after being bitten.
The rash is often described as looking like a bull's-eye on a dart board.
Some people also experience flu-like symptoms in the early stages, such as tiredness, muscle pain, joint pain, headaches, a high temperature, chills and neck stiffness.
Later symptoms can develop several weeks, months or years later if not treated early on or not at all.
They can include pain and swelling in the joints, problems affecting the nervous system – such as numbness and pain in your limbs, paralysis of your facial muscles, memory problems and difficulty concentrating - heart problems. inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, which can cause a severe headache, a stiff neck and increased sensitivity to light.
Some problems can get better slowly with treatment, although they can persist if treatment is started late.