Lyme disease warning: HSE urges caution over tick bites ahead of the summer 4 years ago

Lyme disease warning: HSE urges caution over tick bites ahead of the summer

The HSE has issued a warning over tick bites and Lyme disease as it marks Lyme Disease Awareness day.

Dr Paul McKeown, a specialist in Public Health Medicine at the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), said that the key way of preventing Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites.

Ticks walk on the ground and climb on plants and latch onto passing animals or people by digging in their claws.

They are known to like shady and humid woodland clearings, parkland and heathland with grass, as well as open fields and bushes.

They're active in both urban and rural areas from spring to autumn.

"Only a minority of ticks carry infection," Dr McKeown said. "If a tick is removed within the first 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."

Lyme disease can be prevented by:

  • Wearing long trousers, long sleeved shirt and shoes
  • Wearing a hat and tuck in hair
  • Using an insect repellent (preferably containing DEET)
  • 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