A FORMER teacher who was diagnosed with Lyme disease is now raising awareness for the illness by creating songs of hope.

Demetrios Loukas, 50, was completing his teacher training at Oxford Brookes in 2005 when he was bitten by a tick on a farm.

The trainee teacher had been taking his class from a Banbury primary school on a school trip to a West Oxfordshire farm.

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Mr Loukas became extremely ill shortly after the incident, however, it took eight years for him to be formally diagnosed with the disease.

The former teacher turned music artist now hopes his album ‘The Lyme Years’ will help raise awareness for the illness and have a positive impact on how Lyme disease is tested for in the UK.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can be spread to humans by infected ticks.

If it is detected early enough it can be easy to treat.

Tick infestations are usually seasonal in the UK between March and June, and then again in August to November.

Ticks are usually found in woods or areas of long grass.

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Mr Loukas’ concept album is part of a larger campaign that he co-founded with two medical advisors, British doctor Chris Newton, and German doctor, Armin Schwarzbach, who believe that not enough is being done in the UK to tackle early diagnosis of Lyme disease.

The campaign called ‘Fight Lyme Now’ is a science-based lobby group that first gained traction in 2015.

The album aims to assist the campaign by spreading positivity to those suffering from Lyme disease whilst furthering the push for earlier diagnosis.

Mr Loukas explained: “I was bitten in February 2005, but I was not clinically diagnosed with Lyme disease until late 2012.

“Following the bite, I developed a rash on my abdomen and fever for 24 hours. The following day, I travelled back to London to visit my GP who failed to suspect Lyme disease.

“Unfortunately for me, the infection festered, eventually attacking my heart and brain. “

Mr Loukas was clinically diagnosed with Lyme disease by a cardiologist at King’s College Hospital, however, the NHS diagnostics used failed to detect the infection.

Due to this failed detection, the patient was unable to receive any treatment for the disease on the NHS and so had to privately find treatment.

He added: “The NHS blood test failed to detect my infection and support my NHS cardiologist’s clinical diagnosis, but there were other tests for Lyme disease available in both Germany and America.”

Mr Loukas decided to approach an accredited laboratory in Germany, that confirmed his disease.

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‘The Lyme Years’ album was co-produced by Minnesota-based producer Treyvonce Ambers-Moore who Mr Loukas discovered on Youtube.

Due to the former teacher’s illness, which often causes him to stay in bed for days, the album took a lengthy five years to make.

He added: “Lyme disease is a multi-system infection, and it broke me.

“It disabled me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. That is how bad it is.”

After becoming severely depressed, which can be a symptom of the disease, Mr Loukas’ doctor encouraged him to start singing and songwriting to help lift his mood.

He said: “For me, song creation is cathartic and a way to share a lesson learnt, and I imagine it’s a wonderful feeling to discover your listeners relate to you.

“Writing and recording a song about an experience, especially an unpleasant one, definitely has psychological benefits, and warming up my voice and singing has never once failed to lift my mood.

“Having said that, vocal exercises require energy and focus, and when you have Lyme disease, you very often feel robbed of energy.”

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The song ‘Never Give Up’ was specifically written by Mr Loukas to encourage those battling with the disease to keep persevering and being positive despite the trials that the illness brings.

His producer, Mr Ambers-Moore said: “Ultimately, Demetrios’s battle with Lyme disease has even affected me as his producer and collaborator.

“Within ‘The Lyme Years’ project, Demetrios lyrically details loneliness, traumas and the reality of not knowing if tomorrow is guaranteed.

“Although this disease is the cause of great suffering for many people around the world, interestingly, Demetrios has somehow flipped his mental personal experience with the disease by writing songs of hope.”

The producer hopes all the songs on the album will help spread positivity throughout the pandemic but particularly to those suffering from Lyme disease.

You can read more about the Fight Lyme Now campaign by visiting www.facebook.com/TheFightLymeNowCampaign and you can listen to ‘The Lyme Years’ by visiting www.youtube.com/c/squarehalo