Ticks transmit dangerous diseases - how to protect yourself
If you are out in the nature in the summer months, you can expect to be bitten by ticks. The little bloodsuckers can transmit dangerous diseases such as Lyme disease or TBE. Experts explain what to look out for and how to protect yourself.
Beware of ticks
Gardening, sunbathing, cozy barbecues, relaxing walks: in summer, most people spend as much time outdoors as possible. In the warm months, ticks are also active in many areas. The little bloodsuckers can transmit dangerous infectious diseases. What many people do not know is that ticks are not only found in forests and meadows, but also in gardens and in cities. Experts explain how best to protect yourself from the crawling animals.
Carrier of dangerous diseases
Ticks don't just lurk in the forest and meadows, they also feel good in the garden. Even in some cities they are very common.
The small bloodsuckers can transmit dangerous diseases such as early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE) or Lyme disease. Experts therefore repeatedly point out how important it is to protect yourself from ticks.
What many are not aware of is that the little animals have now spread to large cities. The University of Hohenheim reported in a communication that "ticks were found in 60 percent of all gardens".
Although their investigations were limited to the Stuttgart area, "we can assume that the results can be transferred to other cities," said Prof. Dr. Ute Mackenstedt from the University of Hohenheim.
“Anyone who steps out the front door is in the tick's habitat,” says the expert.
TBE can be fatal in extreme cases
Of the various diseases that can be transmitted by ticks, TBE is one of the most dangerous. The disease can be severe, especially in older people. Symptoms appear in about a third of those infected.
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.
No drugs are available against TBE itself, only the symptoms can be treated.
Lyme disease occurs nationwide
In addition to TBE, ticks can also transmit Lyme disease. This disease caused by bacteria occurs in all parts of Germany.
Symptoms can include reddening of the skin, fever, muscle and headaches and even paralysis. Some complaints can only appear after months.
If the disease remains undetected and untreated, it can lead to chronic damage to the heart, nerves and joints, among other things.
There is no vaccine against the disease. Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics.
Vaccination for people from risk groups
Vaccination against TBE is available. Vaccination protection is recommended by the Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO) and other health experts for people who are often outside in TBE risk areas.
Vaccination also makes sense for people working in nature, such as forest workers or farmers, as well as for holidaymakers who travel abroad in TBE risk areas.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) offers an overview of TBE risk areas in Germany on its website. These are mainly located in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg - but also in places in Thuringia, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate or the Saarland.
Information about a TBE risk abroad can be found online at the Federal Foreign Office's travel safety information.
Protect as well as possible from ticks
Some people think that ticks fall from the trees. But that's not true. The little creepy crawlers sit mainly in the grass, bushes or undergrowth.
Rainer Schretzmann from aid infodienst has a good tip for protecting himself from ticks: "Wear sturdy shoes and long trousers that are put in the socks". This makes skin contact more difficult. Special insect sprays can also keep the little animals away.
After an excursion in the forest, meadow or along heavily overgrown streams, one should search for clothing and the whole body for ticks. "Especially in the crotch, in the armpits, elbow bends and back of the knees, the blood suckers like to stay," says Schretzmann.
Act quickly after tick bite
Hurry after a tick bite. The animal should be removed as soon as possible, because: "The tick has to suck for a long time before the pathogen is transmitted", writes the RKI on its website.
“The risk of infection increases after a suction period of more than 12 hours. If you remove the tick early, the risk of transmission is therefore very low. "
It is important that "if possible, all parts of the tick are removed to avoid inflammation," said the RKI.
"To do this, grasp the tick with a pair of tweezers or a special tick removal tool near the surface of the skin, i.e. on your mouth tools (never on the fully soaked body!), And pull it slowly and straight out of your skin," it continues.
The tick should "not be rotated as far as possible and under no circumstances should it be drizzled with oil or adhesive before removal. This would irritate the animal unnecessarily and could lead to its saliva and thus possible infectious agents being released ”.
After the tick has been removed, careful disinfection of the wound is recommended.
According to health experts, you don't have to go to the doctor after every tick bite. Overall, the risk of contracting Lyme disease or TBE is low.
However, if you notice after the bite of a tick that there is reddening of the skin at the injection site, you should seek medical help immediately. Because this is an indication of Lyme disease.
If you are not sure of redness after an insect bite or bite, you can compare it with pictures of the so-called Erythema migrans on the Internet. (ad)