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Plea to help raise awareness of Lyme disease

Catherine Brosnahan, Tournafulla who has Lyme disease caused by a bite from an infected tick. 
Picture: Adrian Butler

Catherine Brosnahan, Tournafulla who has Lyme disease caused by a bite from an infected tick. Picture: Adrian Butler

  • by Anne O’Donoghue
 

A TOURNAFULLA woman has said that lack of awareness led to her going undiagnosed with Lyme disease for years.

Lyme disease is contracted from a tick that has been infected with the Borrelia virus and is called the great imitator, as it often mirrors the symptoms of other diseases.

Catherine Brosnahan, had been diagnosed by medical professionals with a string of different illnesses including bell’s palsy, bipolar, panic attacks, nerve pain and severe migraine.

All of these are underlying symptoms of Lyme disease.

“The doctor was trying to tell me that I had migraine, I was not listening to that,” said Miss Brosnahan.

Miss Brosnahan was diagnosed with chronic stage 3 Lyme disease in March of this year and has suffered severely for the past number of years.

“My biggest problem is the seizures; I get a pain in my face and down the back of my head, I cannot use my left arm or my legs and I cannot talk.”

“These last from 20 minutes to a half an hour, the longest one I have had is an hour,” said Miss Brosnahan.

Treatment for Lyme disease is not available in Ireland and to receive treatment, she will have to fundraise to go to a specialist clinic in Germany.

“People who have had Lyme disease for years are going to Germany, that costs money, these people are fundraising, which I am going to have to look at down the line,” said Miss Brosnahan.

The Tournafulla woman said that she was introduced to a group on Facebook called Tick Talk Ireland and here she was able to connect with other Lyme sufferers.

Miss Brosnahan was invited to a meeting of Lyme disease sufferers in May in Thurles, where the youngest sufferer present was just four.

“At last I didn’t feel so alone. There were heart-breaking stories being told, including my own,” said Miss Brosnahan.

Ticks are most common during the late spring and early summer months due to breeding patterns.

Lyme disease is not a common infection, with 50 to 100 cases in Ireland each year.

People should be vigilant when it comes to ticks, they prefer areas of high vegetation, fallen leaves and tall grass.

If bitten by a tick, it should be removed with a fine tipped tweezers or a tick twister and anything that squeezes the body of the tick should not be used.

People are advised to contact thier GP if they notice signs of a rash or flu-like symptoms.

For more information see ticktalkireland.org.

 

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