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Experts count on many ticks - how to protect yourself
Due to the mild temperatures, experts are expecting a particularly large number of ticks this season. The small bloodsuckers can transmit dangerous infectious diseases such as TBE or Lyme disease. But a few tips will help you get through the year without a tick bite.
Strong tick season expected
The past year has affected the forests, but the ticks have benefited from it. As the higher temperatures and mild winters of recent years have favored the native ticks and led to the spread of new species, a strong tick season is expected again in 2019. The Schutzgemeinschaft Deutscher Wald (SDW) points this out in a communication. The enormous increase in the tick population is particularly critical because the small animals can transmit dangerous diseases such as early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE) and Lyme disease.
You can protect yourself against TBE by vaccination
Symptoms appear in about a third of those infected with TBE.
First, there are flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, vomiting and dizziness.
Some patients also develop meningitis and cerebral inflammation with the risk of spinal cord damage. In extreme cases, the disease is fatal.
You can get vaccinated against TBE. According to health experts, vaccination against TBE should be given in good time before early summer, as there has to be time between the three vaccination appointments.
If this meningitis remains undetected, it can lead to permanent neurological damage, psychological changes and even death.
That is why the SDW advises people who are at work in designated risk areas and risk groups such as older, chronically ill people to vaccinate.
The TBE risk areas include the whole of southern Germany and areas in Hesse and Thuringia.
People who vacation in the popular excursion regions Austria, Scandinavia or Northern Italy should also get vaccinated.
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Disease can be fatal
In humans, Lyme disease often begins symptomatically with the so-called reddening (erythema migrans) around the tick bite. However, it does not occur in all those affected.
Other signs include general symptoms such as fatigue, night sweats, fever and non-specific joint and muscle pain.
If you notice such symptoms after a tick bite, you should definitely go to a doctor.
If the disease remains undetected and untreated, it can lead to chronic damage to the heart, nerves and joints, and in the worst case, to death.
There is no vaccine against the disease.
Nationwide, around every third tick carries Borrelia and can transfer it to its victim after the bite.
Rapid removal is crucial here because the pathogens are located in the tick's midgut and only pass to humans after twelve to 24 hours.
Spread of new tick species
A new danger is the spread and survival of new tick species, which are favored by climate change, warns the SDW.
The riparian tick is spreading further and further to Germany from the east, which can cause spot fever in humans and malaria in dogs.
Subtropical ticks, which spread dangerous infectious diseases such as the Crimean-Congo virus, have also been spotted for the first time in the Hanover area, Osnabrück and Wetterau.
In the past, ticks were active from spring to autumn. With the mild winter temperatures, the animals are now also in the winter months. As a rule, an infection risk is to be expected from April to September.
Throughout the year without a tick bite
The German Forest Protection Association has a few tips on how to protect yourself from ticks and get through the year without a tick bite:
Avoid the whereabouts of the tick: If you stay on clear and vegetation-poor forest paths, you reduce contact with the tick considerably. Avoid bushes, undergrowth or uncut meadows and do not rest at the edge of the forest, on haystacks and in the thick undergrowth!
The experts also recommend wearing closed and light-colored clothing. The skin should be largely covered. Sturdy shoes or rubber boots, long pants and tops with long sleeves make it difficult for the ticks. You can spot ticks faster on light-colored clothing.
Tick protection agents also offer protection. In addition to commercially available tick protection products, there are also natural substances such as B. Lavender and clove oil, which can reduce the risk of tick infestation. Lavender oil should be dripped onto shoes and stockings.
After a walk, you should check your clothes and your whole body as quickly as possible, especially the backs of your knees, armpits and your crotch for ticks. Garments, especially stockings, should be changed.
Ticks crawl on clothes and look for free skin and warm parts of the body. But be careful: young animals are very small (0.5 mm) and difficult to see between the hairs.
The faster you remove the tick from the body, the less risk of infection. The bloodsucker should never be suffocated with oil, glue or cream before removal, but must be removed with a pair of tick pliers, a tick loop, a tick card or your fingernails.
You grab the tick by its proboscis directly on the surface of the skin and carefully pry it out. Squeezing the tick must be avoided, otherwise the risk of infection increases. The puncture site should then be washed and disinfected with alcohol.
Pets should also be protected, ideally by appropriate means from the pharmacy or from the veterinarian.
In addition, dogs and cats should definitely be searched for ticks after a stay outdoors. (ad)