Tick ​​season started early: panic unnecessary

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No need to panic for ticks: low risk of transmission

The tick season started earlier this year than in previous years. The ticks, which belong to the arachnids, are responsible for a number of serious infectious diseases. No other animal transmits as many diseases as, for example, early summer meningitis (TBE) or Lyme disease. However, there is no reason to panic: if you protect yourself well, you significantly reduce the risk of a tick bite.

Ticks cause great fear for many Germans: they fall down from trees in order to transmit always bad diseases, according to the popular opinion. However, a few myths are wrong: ticks are more likely to be stuck in the undergrowth and can be dragged along as they pass. Very few actually carry a pathogen and transmit Lyme disease. Nevertheless, some precautions are useful to protect yourself from infections.

If in doubt, have your doctor remove ticks
Ronald (8) from Winsen played outdoors all day. The sun was shining and the kids were raging wildly. “When I showered in the evening, I noticed the ticks on my son's skin. The animal was stuck, but not yet very full, ”reports Ronald's mother. "We were very afraid that the tick bite would cause meningitis or Lyme disease." Since the parents knew that a lot can be done wrong when pulling out, they preferred to go to the next ambulance. The ticks were removed there using special pliers. "The pediatrician on duty was able to calm us down," reports Ms. Neumann. Although there is a risk of a transmission disease, only very few ticks actually infect humans. "The risk is 1: 100," reports Klaus Ernst, a medical doctor from Hanover. Because according to the latest studies, only every hundredth tick transmits Lyme disease. The season for the tiny bloodsuckers started early this year. "I already had a few patients with tick bites in my practice," reports internist Dr. Kurt Reising, spokesman for the medical district association.

Only one in 100 tick bites transmit Lyme disease
Although there is a possibility that ticks transmit an illness, explains the Foundation for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWIG) in Cologne, but most tick bites are rather harmless except for the small wound. Shortly after the infestation, a red patch of skin around the puncture site begins to itch. This is a body's warning system to indicate that there is a foreign body in the skin. The tick should be professionally removed immediately. It is best “to use special tick pliers, which can also be bought in pharmacies.” If you are unsure, you should go to your family doctor or go to the nearest clinic at the weekend. This symptom can only indicate Lyme disease if a red patch of skin develops around the affected area a few days or weeks later. In this case, a doctor should be consulted immediately, who will then initiate further examinations and therapies.

According to some evaluations, only one in 100 stabs suffer from dangerous Lyme disease. Seven of the sixteen federal states in Germany have introduced a reporting obligation for the disease. The health authorities of the reportable countries report of around 8,000 patients in 2011. Early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE) occurs even less frequently. Just 400 patients were registered in the whole of Germany last year. Most of those affected came from Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, which are also considered "strongholds" for tick bites. In numerous regions of Germany, the TBE "does not occur at all", as the foundation reports.

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterial strain "Borrelia burgdorferi". The pathogens can basically affect all organs in the human body. Most often, nerve damage or joint problems are triggered in those affected. "The transmission is usually triggered by the wooden trestle, but very rarely by mosquitoes or horse brakes," experts explain. Doctors report that in the worst case, paralysis and permanent nerve disorders can remain. Many patients also report heart problems such as rapid heartbeat and chest pain, which are mostly caused by vascular inflammation.

Rapid test does not necessarily have to be
Some doctors and veterinarians offer so-called quick tests. Anyone who brings the tick to the doctor's office after a bite can find out in a quarter of an hour whether the animal is a carrier of Lyme disease. This way, the manufacturers can quickly find out whether humans or pets have been infected. Dr. Kurt Reising, medical spokesman for the Augsburg district association, thinks little of such rapid tests. It is better to observe the puncture site for a few weeks after the bite. If a red, ring-shaped circle forms around the area, the person concerned should go to the doctor. As a rule, he will then administer antibiotic medicines.

Proper clothing is the best protection against ticks
The right clothes should be worn to prevent tick bites. In order to offer the tick as little skin contact as possible, children in particular should wear long sleeves and legs with closed cuffs outdoors. Sturdy shoes that are also closed are also suitable.

Alternative practitioner Susanne Schlagfeld also advises lotions that tend to deter ticks. These mostly essential oils contain anise, lavender, tea tree, rosemary or citronella. These scents irritate the insects and thus cause displacement. "However, the oils should be reapplied once an hour," advises the alternative practitioner. The very hard-boiled can also eat a clove of garlic before a walk in the forest. Body protection through adequate clothing should not be missing, says Schlagfeld.

Robert Koch Institute advises vaccination against TBE
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) advises immunization through vaccination. However, this only works before early summer meningitis. Ideally, vaccination should be undertaken in winter to build up a protective effect for the tick time. This requires two injections at 4 to 8 week intervals. However, vaccination protection is not suitable for Lyme disease, as it is caused by bacteria. (sb)

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