Massive cost of Lyme disease treatment outlined

A sign along the popular Fossa Way warning of the dangers of Lyme disease and tick bites

There is no need for people to travel to other countries for diagnosis or treatment for Lyme disease Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly, has insisted.

But Killarney councillor Maura Healy-Rae said his comments have angered Lyme sufferers, their family and friends who are most aware of their debilitating symptoms.

She said it also displays either a lack of understanding of chronic disease on the minister’s part or a refusal on the part of the Department of Health to acknowledge the inadequacies in relation to diagnosis and treatment offered to Lyme sufferers in this country.

Cllr Healy-Rae, who has been highlighting the plight of sufferers for some time, pointed out that the testing in Ireland currently is able to diagnose those who have been recently infected but not those who have become infected over a long period of time.

Cllr Maura Healy-Rae
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly

“This explains why so many people have been misdiagnosed with other diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia. The German tests check the cells for the presence or previous presence of Lyme disease and therefore, is a more effective test,” she said.

Cllr Healy-Rae added that the treatment currently available in Ireland is in antibiotic form and is only effective for those who have been recently infected and before the disease has taken chronic hold. The intensive treatment needed for chronic Lyme sufferers is not available in Ireland.

“Really and truly why does the minister think any person would subject themselves to such intensive treatment, at such an enormous cost, abroad if they didn’t believe it to be necessary and critical to them in having any quality of life and to tackle their severe symptoms?

“Why would they travel abroad for treatment unless they were medically advised to do so? In my view, the minister’s response shows immense arrogance as it implies he knows better than a sufferer of Lyme disease,” the Killarney Municipal District Council member added.

The German test costs €1,000, the intensive treatment costs in the region of €40,000 and the post treatment medication is €500 a month but while the Minister for Health believes there’s no need for people to travel abroad for diagnosis or treatment; the sufferers believe there is a need.

“This government is failing Lyme disease sufferers and the denials and belittling responses on the matter only serves to rub salt to the wound,” Cllr Healy-Rae stated.

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