Ticks in the park could run to billions

Ticks are a known cause of spreading Lyme disease
Ticks are a known cause of spreading Lyme disease

WITH potentially lethal Lyme disease in the spotlight this week following the publication of a series of reports by KillarneyToday.com, it has emerged that the infestation of insects that spread the infection is likely to be a lot more serious in Killarney than initially thought.

In recent days a Killarney man now living in Switzerland complained that he had to remove up to 100 ticks from the hair and bodies of his two sons and his niece following a visit to Killarney National Park.

Ross Barry, originally from Woodlawn Park, called for signs to be erected in Muckross Gardens to warn the public of the presence of ticks and the dangers they pose.

Now a senior university scientist has indicated that the number of ticks in areas like Killarney National Park, where deer roam freely, could run to several million.

Asked to estimate the number likely to be present in areas of heavy forestry, Dr Eoin Healy of the School of Biology in University College Cork remarked: “Hundreds of thousands, millions – in heavily forested areas which would contain large numbers of deer, billions possibly”.


Dr Healy was speaking in a documentary, Living with Lyme Disease, which was filmed mostly in Killarney National Park and is due to be screened on Irish TV in the coming weeks.

The programme was made by Farranfore-based cameraman and Irish TV producer, James Pembroke and his son, David, and it will be presented by Brian Hurley.

The documentary features Lyme sufferers from Kerry and other parts of Ireland – including James Pembroke himself who was diagnosed with the disease in 2015 and he believes he contracted the illness while filming in Killarney National Park.

Dr Eoin Healy of the UCC School of Biology
Dr Eoin Healy of the UCC School of Biology

Kerry GP Dr Eamonn Shanahan, Farranfore and Dr Armin Schwarzbach from Germany will also be interviewed.

In a recent survey of Lyme disease sufferers, 19 people claimed they were bitten by ticks in Kerry over the past 12 months while a further 13 claim they were infected in the county between 2009 and 2014.

Living with Lyme Disease will be broadcast on Irish TV on Tuesday, October 11 at 9.00pm.

* Images from James and David Pembroke’s Irish TV documentary Living with Lyme Disease

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