Sunday 15 September 2019

Lyme Disease cases increasing every year

Jessica Farry

A report released by the British Medical Journal last week stated that the number of Lyme Disease cases in the UK could be three times higher than is currently predicted.

Some of those who campaign for better service for people with Lyme Disease say that the numbers suffering from the illness in Ireland could be ten times more than is reported.

The North West Lyme Awareness Group say there has been a huge increase in the number of people coming to them this year concerned that they have Lyme Disease.

Some have even had bloods sent away that to places such as Germany, with their bloods testing positive for Lyme Disease.

Fiona Quilter, of the North West Lyme Awareness Group told The Sligo Champion: "This year there's been a huge outbreak. We had a mild winter, it's all to do with global warming.

"The warm, damp climate in Ireland is bad and there's so many cases this year alone, and there seems to be a lot more children. If a child comes in with symptoms the HSE should listen to the child rather than just sending them to a psychologist," she added.

Fiona says that the number of people with Lyme Disease in Ireland is a lot higher than we are aware of.

"It's not three times higher than reported numbers, I'd say ten times higher. On our Tick Talk webpage alone there is 3,500 followers. That's just a support group.

"We don't even want to imagine the amount of people who have it and don't know. They are diagnosed with a lot of different autoimmune diseases instead. We're going to work hard to get signs up, taking precautionary measures can save years and years of illness."

She claims that the disease is now affecting animals too, with farmers left reeling.

"Sheep, dogs, lambs are all dying because of this too. Up Donegal area there's a lot of lambs and sheep dying because of Lyme disease. It's rampant. Thanks to our awareness campaign, people are coming out thinking about whether or not they got bitten. Thirteen people who got tested this year were diagnosed. It's not a life sentence."

The group held an information morning at Bank of Ireland, Stephen Street on Friday to raise awareness of the disease.

Fiona explained: "Basically it's just to tell people that Lyme Disease is out there. It's vector borne. It can come not just from ticks,horseflies, mosquitoes, all these different things. If it's caught in time it can be treated. We have a lot of examples here in Sligo/Leitrim, people who because of awareness got treatment in time and are doing well today back at work. It's all about getting caught early."

Fiona herself was diagnosed with Lyme a number of years ago and with experience she now knows how to manage it.

"I know what my body can do. It doesn't manage me anymore, I manage it."

The group are organising a walk in September to raise awareness of Lyme Disease.

"The walk is going to be a fun day. We had Scruffy Duffy, we had an ice-cream van. It's not about money it's about awareness. If there are a few donations it will go towards signage next year. We want people to know it's not about the money."

Lyme Disease is caused by a bacterial infection carried by a tick, mosquito, etc. In about 50% of cases, a bullseye rash will appear. A flu like illness will follow.

If you notice a tick bite, or a rash, you should contact your GP immediately. If caught quick enough, antibiotics can treat Lyme Disease.

Sligo Champion