Don’t ignore ticks…
If you love the outdoors, then you need to read this… Do you know about Lyme disease?
The HSE believes there are 50 -100 cases of Lyme Disease in Ireland every year but many are not reported because the disease is difficult to diagnose and Lyme disease symptoms overlap with those of many other diseases.
So what is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease can develop when someone is bitten by a blacklegged tick infected with a virulent strain of the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. In a minority of cases, Lyme disease can cause severe debilitating heart and nervous system disease.
Don’t ignore a tick bite…
Most people are often unaware that ticks can carry disease. People may ignore a rash and being unaware of the significance of some symptoms, do not relate them to their GP which means easily diagnosed early Lyme disease can become very difficult-to-diagnose late and chronic Lyme disease.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms in adults are:
- ‘flu like symptoms of aching, fever, headache
- joint pain
- light and sound sensitivity
- abnormal skin sensations (tingling, numbness, itching)
- stiff neck
- erythema migrans rash.
The rash is red, roughly circular and spreading outwards. It is called erythema migrans (EM): erythema for red and migrans for spreading.
It may clear in the middle as it gets bigger, like the bullseye on a dart board… It is not normally itchy, hot or scaly.
What happens if I get Lyme Disease?
If Lyme disease is diagnosed in its early stages, it can be treated with antibiotics, and the outlook for the condition is excellent. Most people will make a full recovery within a couple of days.
How do I protect myself?
The HSE says that you can reduce the risk of infection by:
- being aware of ticks and which areas they normally live in,
- wearing appropriate clothing in tick-infested areas (a long-sleeve shirt and trousers tucked into your socks),
- using insect repellents,
- inspecting your skin for ticks, particularly at the end of the day, including your head, neck, and skin folds (armpits, groin, and waistband),
- making sure that your children’s head and neck areas, including scalps, are properly checked,
- checking that ticks are not brought home on your clothes, and checking that pets do not bring ticks into your home in their fur.
I’ve found a tick, what do I do?
- If you find a tick on your skin or your child’s skin, remove it by gently gripping it as close to the skin as possible, preferably using fine-toothed tweezers. Pull steadily away from the skin.
Dr Paul McKeown, a specialist at the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre, says: “Only a minority of ticks carry infection. If a tick is removed within a few hours, the risk of infection is low. 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. Anyone who develops a rash or other symptoms should visit their GP and explain that they have been bitten by a tick.”
You can get more information and advice from the Health Service Executive