Action Needed To Tackle Lyme Disease – Mairead McGuinness MEP

Mairead McGuinness MEP and First Vice-President of the European Parliament has welcomed the focus on Lyme disease and the very broad support among MEP that more need to be done to raise awareness, diagnosis and treatment, following a parliamentary vote in Strasbourg this week (Thursday).

“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”, McGuinness warned.

Lyme disease (Borreliosis) is currently the world’s fastest growing infection spread by insects or ticks. It is transmitted to humans via bites from infected ticks with typical symptoms including fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash.

Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg 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 Midlands North West 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, which is also a concern.

“Awareness about the disease and how infection occurs is needed, as is a greater awareness among the medical professional of the reality that Lyme disease is on the increase and how early diagnosis is essential for successful treatment.”

The MEP noted that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is doing a lot of work though factsheets, tick-maps and information sharing.

“The EU could assist further by setting up a new European Reference Network for Lyme disease to enable knowledge exchange between healthcare providers across Europe. These networks aim to facilitate discussion on complex or rare diseases and conditions that require highly specialised treatment, and concentrated knowledge and resources.”

MEP McGuinness complimented the Tick Talk Ireland supprt group for their work in raising awareness


She also stressed the need for research into the disease: “There is no vaccine against Lyme disease yet. However, the EU has invested over €40 million in research and €25 million is targeted at innovators to develop a Lyme disease vaccine”.

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