Westport woman calls for more awareness on tick bite disease

Elaine Griffin.

Elaine Griffin.

A Westport artist has launched her own campaign to alert people to the potential dangers of a simple tick bite.

Elaine Griffin (42 ), who suffers from Lyme disease, had struggled most of her adult life from persistent and unexplained health problems.

Over the years she was misdiagnosed with a whole host of illnesses, from chronic fatigue syndrome and palindromic rheumatism to depression and anxiety disorder.

It was not until November last, after crossing the globe multiple times in search of answers and spending more than €150,000 on specialists and treatment, that she finally learned it was a tick bite, most likely in her childhood, that was at the root of all her problems.

Lyme disease is a bacterial illness - passed to humans by a bite from an infected tick - which attacks the body’s systems and can cause severe health problems if left untreated.

The risk of contracting the condition can be greatly reduced if an infected tick is removed early and correctly. If Lyme disease is contracted, early treatment can drastically limit damage to the sufferer’s health.

Symptoms of Lyme disease can include a ‘bulls-eye’ rash, fatique, muscle and joint stiffness, swollen glands, headache and fever.

An artist and musician, Ms Griffin is planning to use her creative talents to raise more awareness about the risk of tick bites and Lyme Disease in Ireland.

“There is a very poor understanding of this disease in Ireland and consequentally there are very limited treatment options available,” she explained.

Ms Griffin will be releasing an aptly titled single called ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’ with a CD sleeve to include information on Lyme disease, its causes and symptoms, the importance of removing ticks properly, and even a handy tool to make sure a tick is completely detached.

“My agenda is to alert people to the danger of tick bites and to raise awareness about how to take proper precautions.

“I would never want anyone to have to go through what I went through to firstly identify the illness, and then to get treatments,” said Ms Griffin. “I am trying my best, as a creative person, to find ways to get word out there in a way that accessible.”

Ms Griffin is travelling to America for treatment on October 2 and will record her single when she returns.

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