Lyme Disease WarningTo: Mountain bike / walking clubs in the South East
Re: Protecting against Lyme disease when taking part in outdoor pursuits
Dear Sir / Madam,
I am writing to you on behalf of the South East Regional Zoonoses Committee. We are a multidisciplinary group of Human and Animal Health Professionals from the South East whose remit includes informing the public about diseases that can be passed between animals and humans.
Members of your club are involved in outdoor pursuits and may be at risk of contracting Lyme disease because of these activities.
Lyme disease, which is spread by tick bites, can in a minority of cases, cause severe debilitating heart and nervous system disease. The HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre issued a warning to people who engage in outdoor pursuits in the summer months; ramblers, campers, mountain bikers and others who work or walk in forested or grassy areas to be vigilant against tick bites. Ticks are tiny insect like creatures that feed on the blood of mammals and birds and will also feed on humans. Ticks are more active and numerous in the summer months and protecting against tick bites protects against Lyme disease.
Tick bites can be prevented by:
• Wearing long trousers, long sleeved shirt and shoes.
• Using insect repellent.
• Checking skin, hair and warm skin folds (especially the neck and scalp of children) for ticks after a day out.
• Removing any ticks and consulting with a GP if symptoms develop.
• Using tick collars for pets (they can get Lyme disease) and inspecting them for (and removing) any ticks.
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 be then washed with soap and water and the area checked over the next few weeks for swelling or redness. Anyone who develops symptoms should contact their GP and explain that they had been bitten by a tick.
Further important information on protecting against Lyme disease, an information leaflet and a poster are available at http://www.hpsc.ie/hpsc/A-Z/Vectorborne/LymeDisease/
We would urge you to encourage your members to read this information and we suggest that a copy of the HPSC leaflet and poster be displayed alongside other club information.
p.p P. Brennan
Dr. Sarah Doyle, MB MRCPI MPH MFPHMI,
Consultant in Public Health Medicine,
Secretary to the South East Zoonoses Committee,
Public Health Department.