Lyme disease and warning signs

 

Sir, – Dr Eoin Healy and Prof John Lambert (Letters, September 2nd) deserve our thanks for highlighting the widespread risks of contracting Lyme disease from infected ticks (and I have recently bought a tick-remover tool, just in case).

However, their suggestion that the absence of warning notices would provide “a reasonable basis for suing the relevant local authority” is going too far.

Fear of litigation might be one way of grabbing the attention of public bodies, but is the prevalence of ticks due to the negligence of local authorities?

Is every misfortune that befalls us to blamed on somebody else, in the hope of financial redress? Is the country to be littered with warnings of every conceivable risk, not really for our protection, but to be able to say before the judge, “We told you so”?

Are not the unintended consequences of risk aversion and fear of litigation causing enough problems for small businesses, voluntary organisations and public bodies?

Certainly there is a need for comprehensive public education campaign, as your letter writers propose, but don’t encourage the compensation culture. – Yours, etc,

SEÁN

BOYLE,

London.

Sir, – Dr Eoin Healy and Prof John Lambert (Letters, September 2nd) raise an important public health issue regarding Lyme disease in Ireland.

While the public needs to be properly informed about the risks posed by tick-bites and avoidance-behaviours, the proposed use of warning signage in Kerry is an inadequate, passive and outdated response to a serious public health issue, it also highlights a lack a coordinated approach by relevant government agencies.

By way of contrast, in Switzerland, the Zurich University of Applied Sciences has a dedicated smartphone app for tick-bite information, and it allows users to a report tick bites. The information is then uploaded to a nationwide map that illustrates the distribution of tick bites, displaying where ticks are most prevalent, which may change seasonally. The app also provides information to help people protect against tick bites and what to do after a tick bite. The app allows outdoor workers, farmers, recreation users and tourists to make informed decisions in advance.

The use of a similar smartphone app in Ireland would be a more appropriate response, in this online age, than passive signage. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL MAUNSELL,

Clonmel,

Co Tipperary.