Almost half of the cases of Lyme disease reported in 2016 were in the South-West, figures from the HSE reveal, amid calls for signs to be put up to warn walkers and campers about the risks of contracting it.
Lyme disease is spread by a bite from an infected tick and can cause, in some cases, severe debilitating heart and nervous system disease.
The condition has a high profile in Kerry after former county footballer and father of one Anthony Morris was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease.
The illness was made notifiable in Ireland in January 2012. Eight of the 19 cases reported nationally this year occurred in Kerry and Cork, according to figures released by the HSE.
Cork and Kerry had eight cases of Lyme disease notified in 2014, out of a total of 18 cases notified nationally. In 2015 there were three cases of Lyme disease notified Cork and Kerry.
The National Parks and Wildlife service said it is considering signage for its nature reserves and parks after being called on to do so by Kerry County Council.
The presence of ticks, which are the main vector for the transmission of Lyme disease and similar infections, was an issue throughout the countryside and was not confined to national parks, nature reserves or designated lands, it said.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service websites and notice/info boards already provide useful information and advice for members of the public intending to visit National Parks and Nature Reserves.
“The issue of signage has been raised locally and it will be kept under review by the NPWS,” it said.
The Tralee councillor Norma Foley has led calls for heightened public awareness for those using the outdoors in Kerry.
“We need to encourage people involved in outdoor pursuits to be vigilant. We should show leadership in this county,” said Ms Foley, a teacher and Fianna Fail councillor.
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