McGuinness urges Waterford dog walkers to be ‘tick aware’

Sinn Féin local area representative Conor McGuinness has urged dog walkers and anyone engaged in outdoor per suits to be ‘tick aware’. The warning came after a reported rise in tick bites across the country this summer.

Conor McGuinness said, “I have been hearing of an increase in tick bites this summer from around the country, and not least here in County Waterford. I have heard from a number of dog owners who have removed multiple ticks from their animals following walks. It seems there is an explosion in the tick population this year, making it more important than ever to be aware of the risks involved.

Ticks are small spider-like external parasites that attach themselves to mammals and feed on their hosts’ blood. They can carry infectious bacteria and being bitten by a tick can lead to lyme disease in some cases. Lyme disease is currently the fastest growing vector-borne disease and the early signs of infection are so-called ‘bulls eye’ rashes around the source of the bite. Flu-like symptoms and fatigue are often experiences soon after infection.

“Ticks that carry the infection are more likely to be concentrated in the western half of Ireland. The increase in their population this summer, and the increase in people spending time outdoors in the good weather, means we cannot be complacent in Co. Waterford,” he continued.

“Prevention is the best cure, and there are a number of easy ways to avoid a tick bite when your are out and about. Wear long-sleeved t-shirts and trousers when away from paths and roads, especially in grassy areas. Check yourself, your children and your pets after walks, or every so often when spending the day outdoors. Avoid tall grass or wooded areas if possible, and use a good insect repellent if not.”

“If you find a tick bite it is important to remove. Use wide tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible, and pull upwards in a steady and slow movement. Wash your hands and the bite area with soap and warm water and apply antiseptic cream. If you develop a rash or flu like symptoms you should go straight to your GP’” he advised.

For more information on ticks or lyme disease visit www.ticktalkireland.org or www.HSE.ie.