Lyme disease needs to be recognised in Ireland as a "long-term illness", independent TD Marc MacSharry says.
Marc MacSharry says many patients with symptoms are being treated "disgracefully".
Over the past week, Lunchtime Live has been highlighting the cases of people experiencing the disease, as well as the stories of those who say cases of the illness are going undiagnosed.
Lyme disease is a disease associated with tick bites, with many who get the disease experiencing a distinctive 'bull's-eye' rash in the weeks or months after a bite.
Most people who get the disease will get better after antibiotic treatment.
However, some people continue to report persistent symptoms - such as tiredness and aches - for months or years after treatment.
The HSE says it's "not clear why this happens to some people and not others".
Health officials estimate there are could be around 300 total cases of Lyme disease in Ireland each year - although typically only 20 or fewer cases are notified.
Infectious diseases expert Prof Jack Lambert notes that some calculations suggest there could be as many as 2,500 cases a year, but the data isn't available to know for sure.
Deputy MacSharry told Lunchtime today he believes Lyme disease is one of the nation's "silent crises".
He said: “It’s reasonable to assume cases in Ireland are about 2,500, but our health system - based on dissenting voices - is choosing to be very dismissive of patients.
“I don’t like patients being dismissed in a way that in other countries they seem to be receiving treatment that’s helping their condition.”
The independent TD was part of a cross-party action group on Lyme disease in the last Dáil.
However, he said there's been no progress since then.
He said: “There needs to be recognition of Lyme disease as a long-term illness in this country, so that the social supports we make available to people - like medical cards and illness benefit - are made available to [Lyme patients].
Lyme disease has often been the source of controversy and uncertainty within the medical community.
There has been particularly significant skepticism over the existence of so-called 'chronic Lyme disease'.
This is a term sometimes used for people with various 'non-specific' and subjective persistent symptoms - such as fatigue - despite no evidence of an initial Lyme infection or tick bite.
That is separate to cases where people continue to experience serious and lingering symptoms post-treatment for Lyme.
Deputy MacSharry acknowledged there are "dissenting voices" within medicine when it comes to Lyme disease and the various treatments offered by some international clinics in countries such as the US and Germany.
He said it's also clear a lot of doctors in the "mainstream" are dismissive of the findings of some of the studies that have been done around Lyme disease.
However, he said it's clear there are patients here in Ireland who are experiencing long-term symptoms, and the approach should be 'patient-led'.
He observed: “Patients are being disgracefully treated… with ambivalence, and dismissal of their symptoms. Testing… there is no PCR test for this, so there’s no definitive test.
“There’s a need for physicians to become educated and embrace the reality of clinical diagnosis and apply the appropriate treatment.
“The only thing that drives me and the patient advocate groups is that Lyme disease is a fact of life. The clinical symptoms are there, so why not follow the patient experience?
“There’s nothing more insulting than an ignorant, patronising determination by a physician… [like] ‘look, maybe you should take antidepressants’ or ‘you have anxiety'".