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Beef – Lyme Disease Risk – Teagasc

Beef – Lyme Disease Risk – Teagasc
Beef – Lyme Disease Risk – Teagasc


Lyme disease is an infection caused by the Borrelia bacteria and is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick, explains Teagasc beef expert Aidan Murray.

After such a disappointing spring, it's good to see the days getting longer and the grass growing, even if it's later than we'd like. As the weather warms up, you might want to wear shorts to boost your Vitamin D levels.

The mild winter we're experiencing is affecting a lot of things, but there's one thing you might not think about: tick populations are increasing and spreading geographically.

Everyone knows that ticks carry a protozoan called Babesia that attacks red blood cells, putting naive cattle at risk of contracting red water bacillus. But what is less known is that tick bites also pose a risk to human health. The risk is that you may pick up the Borrelia bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Although the risk is small, if you find a tick on your body or feel like you've been bitten by one, you should be vigilant.

When walking in wooded or grassy areas of the farm, wear long sleeves and long pants to cover exposed skin and use a DEET-based insect repellent. Check yourself for tick bites, especially in areas such as the armpits, groin, and behind the knees.

If you are bitten by a tick, record the date and location of the bite on your body as symptoms may not appear immediately. Carefully remove the tick using tweezers and disinfect the bite area.

If you are bitten, see your doctor, and if you have symptoms you can't explain, tell your doctor that you have Lyme disease, as it can be a difficult disease to properly diagnose.


In the early stages, you may experience flu-like symptoms, including:

  • High fever or feeling hot and shivering.
  • headache;
  • Muscle and joint pain;
  • Fatigue and loss of energy.

Most people who show early symptoms of Lyme disease develop a circular, red skin rash around the tick bite.

Figure 1: Symptoms of Lyme Disease (Image Source: home page)

Symptoms of Lyme Disease. The rash may look like a dartboard target and the skin may be red and feel slightly raised around the edges.

Image credit: home page

The rash can appear up to 3 months after a tick bite. Most rashes appear within the first 4 weeks and usually last for several weeks. Not everyone with Lyme disease develops a rash.

Tick ​​bites are mostly harmless, but if you develop Lyme disease, it can be very debilitating if left untreated.


Although diagnosis can be difficult, Lyme disease is usually confirmed by a blood test.


Most people with Lyme disease recover with antibiotic treatment. Symptoms should improve over time, although for some people it may take several months. Severe cases may require hospitalization for antibiotic treatment.

For more information about Lyme disease, visit the website.

Beef 2024

Teagasc staff are in the midst of preparations for Teagasc National Beef Open Day, BEEF2024, which will be held on 26 June from 9am to 4pm at Teagasc Grange, County Meath, Eircode: C15 PW93. The event will focus on the application of technology to help beef farmers make their family farm operations more profitable and environmentally sustainable, as well as featuring an agricultural lifestyle exhibition, which will showcase on-farm safety measures and also focus on cardiovascular health, cancer prevention and control, farmer wellbeing and mental health.

For more information about BEEF2024, please click here..




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