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Lynn Boylan MEP calls on Irish Government to protect its people from Lyme disease

15 November, 2018 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Fein MEP, Lynn Boylan has welcomed today’s European Parliament vote calling for better diagnosis and treatment for Lyme disease and has called on the HSE and the National Parks and Wildlife Services to roll out a Tick Aware campaign.

The Dublin MEP said:

“Lyme Disease, a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks, is spreading geographically as a result of changing land use and climate change. 

“Due to unreliable diagnosis tests and lack of awareness by some GPs, we do not know the extent of its prevalence in Ireland, only that it is on the rise.

“When I was an ecologist in Killarney National Park, I was given precautionary treatment for Lyme Disease. 

“I was very lucky, my doctor at the time was from a country where Lyme disease was very prevalent and he spotted the tell-tale signs. 

“It is important that all GPs in Ireland are aware of the symptoms of Lyme disease, paying attention even to patients showing no symptoms but are in an ‘at-risk’ category. 

“These categories include farmers, parks and wildlife employees but also members of the public who spend time walking or hiking in areas with ticks.

“Ireland needs a State run ‘tick aware’ campaign. Tick Talk, the patient’s advocacy group, is doing brilliant work but they need the State to roll in behind them. 

“We need a campaign that raises awareness with those in the ‘at-risk’ categories as to how to prevent tick bites in the first place.

“People need to know how to treat bites and the importance of notifying their doctor that they are at risk, whether or not they develop symptoms or even if they had not noticed being bitten. 

“Doctors also need to be encouraged to heighten awareness of the growing prevalence of Lyme disease in Ireland and of the need to act fast, if they suspect Lyme. 

“This is critical because the diagnostic tests are unreliable and delays can lead to the spread of the infection in the patient and longer recovery periods.

“I would also call on Minister Josepha Madigan to carry out a nationwide survey of the tick population and of the prevalence of the disease in the population.

“Today’s vote in the European Parliament is a very welcome development and shows the need for the sharing of best practice and more research into this debilitating disease which must be followed up by action at EU and country level.”

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