A SWINDON woman is backing a worldwide protest calling for better diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease.

Patients and families from all over the UK will head for Parliament Square on May 24 as part of a campaign to make governments recognise the life-changing effects of the tick-borne illness.

Lyme disease hit the headlines late last year when Phones4U billionaire John Caudwell revealed 11 of his family had it.

Joanne Baskett, from Park South, is convinced she has the condition. Since being bitten by an insect in America over 20 years ago and then by a tick in 2009 while she was in her garden she has suffered a host of symptoms ranging from nausea, fevers and chronic pain to kidney infections, immune problems and arthritis.

The mother of three cannot be at the demonstration because she will be recovering from her 31st operation – surgery on lesions in her bowel.

She also blames Lyme for her oldest son’s heart defects.

Joanne said: “There are lots of people out there suffering because testing is failing them. They are being told they don’t have the disease.”

Because of the ability of the Borrelia infection to change its form, getting a positive result using current testing methods was near impossible, she said.

Her NHS test was negative, but she paid for private blood tests at a German lab and the results came back positive for Lyme disease and other related infections. UK doctors do not accept the private tests.

“I have got so many different symptoms but nobody is putting them together,” she added.

Lyme disease sufferers in Wiltshire believe current tests carried out in the UK are not sensitive enough to detect it, making doctors think it is rare. They also think early diagnosis could save the health service millions.

Backed by MPs and Lady Mar, Fight Lyme Now campaigners, among others, are using the protest to raise awareness of awareness of the condition and push for it to be made a notifiable disease so the true number of sufferers is recorded.

Official figures show around 1,000 with the condition in the UK, but Lyme sufferers believe the true number is somewhere between 15,000 to 30,000.

The disease can cause heart failure, paralysis, memory loss, depression and immune system damage.