Tick Safety & Lyme Disease
Summer days will encourage many of us to explore outdoors a lot more but in addition to sun protection, there are other precautions to bear in mind-such as insect bites.
Of particular concern in Ireland is Lyme disease, (Lyme borreliosis) an infection caused by bacteria which is spread by ticks that feed on blood when they bite a person. The tick injects the bacteria into the person’s blood while feeding and this leads to infection. Ticks are active from summer to autumn and are very common in shady wooded areas, open grassland, walkways and paths with grass borders and areas of vegetation close to beaches.
Symptoms & Treatments for Lyme Disease
In about three quarters of cases of Lyme disease, the patient develops a characteristic “bulls-eye” red rash (erythema migrans)which spreads outwards from the site of a tick bite. The patient may also have vague flu-like symptoms.
The rash and other symptoms of Lyme disease can resolve even without antibiotics but treatment of Lyme disease with antibiotics at this stage is still advised to reduce the chance that the disease may progress. Early intervention is vital, so make a habit of checking your children’s and your own skin regularly for attached ticks.
- If you find a tick, use a fine tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool to remove it.
- Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
- Slowly pull upwards, taking care not to squeeze or crush the tick, then clean the bite area with antiseptic or soap and water.
While only a few tick bites will lead to Lyme disease, the condition can worsen dramatically if left untreated and can also be difficult to diagnose. A general tip is to take a photo of any concerning rash on your skin as this can be very useful to a pharmacist or doctor when seeking help.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has a detailed factsheet on Lyme disease here.
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