Monday 26 September 2016

HSE issues warning on Lyme disease

Geraldine Gittens

Published 03/05/2016 | 16:00

Lyme Disease is transmitted to people by infected ticks
Lyme Disease is transmitted to people by infected ticks

The HSE has issued a warning about lyme disease, urging people who take part in outdoor pursuits to protect against the disease.

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Lyme disease is an uncommon infection spread by infected biting ticks.

“As we enter the summer months with people more likely to engage in outdoor pursuits, the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) is urging people to protect themselves against Lyme disease,” Dr Paul McKeown, HPSC Specialist in Public Health Medicinesaid today.

“Ramblers, campers, mountain bikers, and others who work and walk in forested or grassy areas must be vigilant against tick bites”, he added.

Lyme disease can, in a small number of cases, cause severe debilitating heart and nervous system disease.

"Ticks are tiny spider like creatures that feed on the blood of mammals and birds and will also feed on the blood of humans and occasionally dogs. Ticks are more numerous and more active in the summer months and protecting against tick bites protects against Lyme disease,” Dr McKeown added.

Tick bites can be prevented by:

  •  Wearing long trousers, long sleeved shirt and shoes
  •  Using an insect repellent, such as DEET (but use a low-strength DEET if you are pregnant – your local pharmacist can advise you)
  •  Checking skin, hair and warm skin folds (especially the neck and scalp of children) for ticks, after a day out
  •  Removing any ticks and consulting with a GP if symptoms develop
  •  If you have been walking your dog, check him/her too

The HSE advises that if you find a tick, you should remove it and consult your GP if symptoms develop.

Ticks generally have to be attached to a person for a number of hours before passing on the infection, so rapid removal of ticks is important, the HSPC advises.

The entire tick, including any mouthparts which might break off, should be removed with a tweezers by gripping it close to the skin.  The skin where the tick was found should then be washed with soap and water and the area checked over the next few weeks for swelling or redness.

Further important information to protect against Lyme disease is available on the HPSC's website

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