Blood testing facilities for Lyme disease ‘relatively primitive’ – Scanlon

Number of cases on the increase.

Now upwards of 100 occurrences annually.

Sligo News File.

Lyme disease, a bacterial infection transmitted by some ticks, is on the increase. Upwards of 100 cases annually are being recorded. However, blood samples have to be sent abroad for testing as facilities in Ireland are ‘relatively primitive.’

Eamon Scanlon,  TD

The issue has been raised in the Dail this week by Sligo TD Eamon Scanlon who has called for the setting up of a blood testing service for the disease in Ireland.

Scanlon said in a statement that an increase in the number of cases is being diagnosed, “but awareness levels and testing methods still remain relatively primitive.”

The disease, he said is “very debilitating,” and “early detection can make a huge difference to sufferers.

“Last year I met with one of the support groups, Tick Tock, and they explained the issues with the current testing methods here. At the moment, samples have to be sent abroad in order to secure the most reliable results. This not only takes time, it can be extremely expensive.

“I understand that GPs are not fully trained to deal with Lyme disease, but it is crucial that they are brought up to speed on it. The earlier it is detected the faster it can be treated. This would make a huge difference to people living with it.

“I also find it difficult to understand how there is no facility available in Ireland to accurately test for the disease. We have excellent hospitals and laboratories in this country and it would make more sense for us to carry out the tests here at home rather than having to send samples abroad.”

Scanlon said he had been informed by Minister Harris that “a study is underway to examine how Ireland is dealing with Lyme disease compared to other countries.

“I will be following up with the Minister once that study is completed,” he said.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by some ticks. Symptoms may include a rash, fever, chills, headache and fatigue. It’s indicated that infection can spread to the brain, nervous system, muscles, joints, heart and other organs of the body.