27 January 2017
By Elaine Murphy
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has called on the Irish Government to address the rising issue of Lyme disease in Ireland.
The Ireland South MEP was speaking after meeting with members of the Lyme disease support group, the Lyme International Association, in Europe.
Ms Ní Riada said greater awareness of the causes, symptoms and preventions now could save huge amounts of money and suffering in the future.
“Lyme disease is a bacterial disease spread by tick bites that affects humans and many animals, including dogs, cats and horses,” she said.
“Due to its nature it is mainly spread in rural areas with almost half of the diagnosed cases in 2016 coming from Kerry and Cork.
“One of the biggest dangers of the condition is that it often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, leaving the disease free to take greater hold in the body and develop into its most serious and debilitating stages.
“While ticks may seem to be the prime culprit when it comes to spreading Lyme disease, ignorance is by far the biggest factor. A relatively cost effective campaign in rural and wooded areas now, making people aware of the causes, symptoms and ways to prevent contracting the disease, could save us costly treatments and needless human suffering in the future.
“Simple things like wearing long sleeves or checking yourself and your pets for ticks after walking in the woods or hiking in the countryside can stop infection. Often a simple bite from a tick is not enough to spread the disease and removing it from your body, even several hours after it has bitten you, is enough to prevent contracting the condition.
“This is a no brainer; a low cost campaign with a huge payback. I’m calling on the Irish government to put together a comprehensive strategy to address the challenges posed by Lyme disease in conjunction with an awareness and prevention campaign.
“We need to promote research and awareness with a view to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of this chronic disease.”