Southern Germany: greatest risk of tick bites



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The risk of tick bites is particularly high in southern Germany

Although the cases of brain infections due to a tick bite have decreased last year, the danger has not been averted - instead, vaccinations should be taken, particularly in the south of Germany, on the recommendation of the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO), in order to minimize the risk of infection.

Lyme disease and TBE from tick bites Ticks are usually in the warm months, i.e. active from March to October, then they are among others on grass or loose leaves in the forest, looking for potential victims - if they have found a well-perfused area (e.g. the squat), the tick stabs and sucks blood. A tick bite can be harmless in principle - if it weren't for the risk of Lyme disease and the so-called early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE).

TBE can cause inflammation of the brain Early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE) is a viral infection that, in particularly severe cases, can lead to inflammation of the brain and damage to the spinal cord and, in the worst case, can be fatal. TBE is transmitted almost exclusively by infected ticks, because if the tiny arachnids stab, the pathogen can be transported further by saliva. The TBE virus does not always trigger symptoms; instead, those affected often do not notice the infection at all, but initially suffer from flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache and body aches. In many cases, after a first improvement of the symptoms, a fever recurs after a few days, there is a risk that the meninges and the brain can become inflamed, in some cases the spinal cord is also affected and, depending on the course of the disease, severe headaches and Neck pain, nausea, seizures, or paralysis.

Robert Koch Institute publishes overview of TBE risk areas Now the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin has published an evaluation of the reported brain infections caused by tick bites in the current "Epidemiological Bulletin", which shows that the number of cases in the past Year was lower than ever since the obligation to report began in 2001. For example, 195 cases of TBE were reported to the RKI in 2012, compared to 423 a year earlier and 546 in 2006, which was the largest number of diseases to date. According to the RKI, the sometimes massive fluctuations between the years could have different reasons: “People's leisure time behavior influences the risk of coming into contact with ticks and is also influenced by the weather conditions. Last but not least, the number of illnesses can also be influenced by the awareness of the illness as well as by the diagnostic and reporting behavior of the doctors. "

Risk particularly high in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg The likelihood of contracting a brain infection from a tick bite differs in different areas of Germany: 141 districts are currently identified as TBE risk areas nationwide, but in Bavaria (80 Districts) and Baden-Württemberg (43 districts), the majority of the regions are considered to be risky, in some cases only a few districts are affected in neighboring countries, for example one district each in Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, seven in Thuringia and nine in Hesse Counties.

Prevention: TBE vaccination
Since there are no medications to treat the TBE, doctors and experts recommend vaccination. Accordingly, the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommends TBE vaccination for all people who live in the risk areas or who are "at risk at work (those working in risk areas, e.g. forestry workers and exposed people working in agriculture, as well as exposed laboratory personnel ) ”, According to the information in the“ Epidemiological Bulletin ”of the RKI. According to the STIKO, even those who vacation in the risk areas could "have an appropriate risk of infection, which can be minimized by timely vaccination", but beyond that the STIKO vaccination recommendation does not only apply in the endangered areas, because "a vaccination for certain people, e.g. Those who are particularly exposed to ticks due to occupational or certain leisure-related activities can also be useful in areas without an increased TBE incidence, but with sporadic TBE individual diseases, in the sense of an individual vaccination indication, ”says the RKI. A time-limited vaccination protection (for vacationers, for example) would require at least two doses of the vaccine, but a longer-term vaccination protection would require three, booster vaccinations should then be given at intervals of 3 to 5 years.

Lyme disease remains the most common tick-borne disease Despite the increased TBE risk in some parts of Germany, however, the most common tick-borne disease in Germany with tens of thousands of cases per year is Lyme disease, which is widespread across the country - against which it is compared there is no vaccination to TBE. The causative agent here is the bacterial species "Borrelia", which gets into the blood with the bite of a tick. A typical symptom of Lyme disease is a red ring around the puncture site, which is also known as "reddening of the skin". In addition, there is muscle and joint pain, sometimes fever. Lyme disease should be treated as early as possible, usually by prescribing antibiotics - if this is not done, there is a risk of serious complications such as joint, heart muscle and brain infections. Since there is no vaccination against Lyme disease, measures to protect against tick bites, such as long trousers and long-sleeved clothing, are particularly important. (No)

Also read:
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Tick ​​risk very high in southern Germany
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Prevention: Don't panic about ticks


Video: How to Handle Tick Bites and Avoid Lyme Disease


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