There needs to be increased awareness around the dangers posed by ticks and the dangers of contracting Lyme Disease, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Fine Gael TD for Cork East, David Stanton raised the serious health issue in the Dáil this week with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Ticks are a common occurrence in the countryside, particularly in high grass close to deer, cattle and sheep.
While small and seemingly harmless, some of them can be carriers of bacteria responsible for Lyme Disease. Infection from a tick bite can result in symptoms such as a high temperature, headaches, muscle pain, tiredness and a loss of energy which while treatable with antibiotics, can become particularly debilitating.
Deputy Stanton believes increased awareness around the disease and information on how best to prevent it and what to do if the disease is contracted needs to be highlighted across the country.
“‘Lyme Disease is a very dangerous disease which can have profound and long-lasting consequences for those unfortunate enough to contract it. As such, an expanded awareness campaign around the dangers of tick bites must be introduced to warn of the ease with which it can be contracted and to quickly and correctly identify it, and treat to it, so that it cannot develop further,” Deputy Stanton said.
‘‘I am familiar with stories of previously fit and healthy individuals being bedridden and unable to work or exercise as a consequence of contracting the disease.
“Tick Talk Ireland and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre have done considerable work in highlighting these negative side-effects, but I have asked that the Taoiseach explore the possibility of increasing public awareness through both the HSE and the National Parks and Wildlife Service,” the Cork East TD said.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said, “A tick bite can cause Lyme disease, which can be a very severe illness. People are probably not as aware as they might be about the risks.
“I will check with the HSE but I believe some work is under way involving the HSE and the National Parks and Wildlife Service to make people aware of the risks.”
Information on the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Lyme Disease is available on the HSE website (https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/lyme-disease/) which also outlines the best practice to prevent tick bites including:
- Covering your skin while walking outdoors and tucking your trousers into your socks;
- Using insect repellent on your clothes and skin with the best products being those that contain DEET;
- Sticking to pathways whenever possible;
- Wearing light-coloured clothing so that ticks are easier to spot and brush off.