A number of Irish MEPs have welcomed a European Parliament vote calling for better diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease.
The bacterial infection is one of the fastest growing diseases in the world, spread by ticks, with the HSE estimating that there are up to 200 cases here each year.
Sinn Fein's Lynn Boylan is calling on the HSE and the National Parks and Wildlife Services to roll out a Tick Aware campaign.
Ireland South MEP Sean Kelly says he first heard about the disease over a decade ago in Dingle, County Kerry.
He said: "If they are not removed within 48 hours then they can cause difficulty, the poison can get into your system and it can have devastating effects.
"If it is dealt with early, then it can be treated 100%, but if it is dealt with too late, then it can be fatal. I think the message obviously, here will be to create more awareness of it and then to do more research on how to prevent it."
Midlands North West MEP Mairead McGuinness also welcomed the focus on Lyme disease, saying: "Regrettably, knowledge about Lyme disease is limited to those immediately affected, as they struggle to get a clear diagnosis and effective treatment. This disease is on the increase."
Lyme disease (Borreliosis) is the world's fastest-growing infection spread by insects or ticks, and is transmitted to humans via bites from infected ticks with typical symptoms including fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash.
Ms McGuinness said "The debate and vote marks an important first step in acknowledging the suffering of people affected by Lyme disease at EU level.
"Tick Talk Ireland is made up of passionate volunteers working to raise awareness and wanting to provide accurate information about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Lyme Disease.
“Because of the broad nature of the symptoms, diagnosis of the disease can be difficult and is often delayed, leading to much more severe health implications for sufferers, including the spread of the infection to joints, heart and nervous system.”
The MEP said the risk is higher from citizens who engage in leisure pursuits in the countryside, especially woodlands, but also professionals working outdoors. However, there is also a risk in urban settings and climate change is impacting on the movement of insects.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is providing fact sheets, tick-maps and information sharing.
- Digital Desk