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Ticks transmit dangerous diseases: how to protect yourself
Ticks are not only active in summer, but are already lurking on grasses and in bushes. From April to September it is tick time. The little bloodsuckers can transmit dangerous diseases such as Lyme disease and early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE). However, there are ways to protect yourself.
When sucking blood, diseases can be transmitted
Health experts keep pointing out how important it is to protect yourself from ticks. The small bloodsuckers have a sophisticated lancing device. They can tear open the skin of the host with their scissor-like mouth tools (chelicerae) and dig a pit into the tissue with their "sting" (hypostome). The parasite then sucks off the blood that collects in it. The eight-legged friends can transmit various diseases such as Lyme disease and early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE) via their saliva or the intestine. One who is familiar with the parasites explains what to look for in connection with ticks.
Rapid tick removal is important
"The following applies to every tick bite: The quick removal of the tick is crucial," explains Dr. Frieder Schaumburg from the Institute for Medical Microbiology at the UKM (University Hospital Münster) in a message.
"The risk of becoming infected with Lyme disease during a tick bite is significantly influenced by the sucking time of the tick," says the specialist
It takes up to 24 hours before the pathogens causing Lyme disease are transmitted to humans. "Therefore, you should check your ticks thoroughly after a day outdoors to minimize the risk of infection," said the head of the vaccination clinic.
Diseases can lead to death if left untreated
Signs of Lyme disease include general symptoms such as fatigue, night sweats, fever and non-specific joint and muscle pain.
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.
Ticks can also transmit TBE viruses. 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.
TBE no longer only in southern Germany
The bloodsuckers can carry many more pathogens, but in Germany the TBE viruses and the borrelia almost exclusively play a role.
According to Schaumburg, the TBE pathogen is "so far limited to southern Germany".
"However, travelers should take this into account and think about vaccination," says the microbiologist.
However, other experts point out that TBE is now also a growing danger in northern Germany.
For example, Prof. Dr. Ute Mackenstedt, parasitologist at the University of Hohenheim in a message about "brand new hot spots in Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Berlin."
Protect from ticks
To protect itself, Schaumburg recommends common mosquito repellants that contain the ingredients DEET or Icaridin. These make humans uninteresting as prey.
In addition, long clothing should be worn, for example, when hiking or walking through tall grass.
"In the case of a tick bite, you should use fine tweezers to grip the tick as close as possible to the mouth tools and pull it out vertically," explains Dr. Frieder Schaumburg.
He strongly advises against turning or warming up. Instead, the wound should be disinfected and monitored.
“A sign of infection is the so-called blush. This creates a circular reddening around the puncture site. This spreads as the infection progresses. "
Although it is a 100 percent symptom, it only occurs in half of the patients.
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.
If suspected, those affected should consult their family doctor.
If the bacteria have attacked the nervous system, one speaks of neuroborreliosis. Depending on the stage of the infection, treatment with antibiotics takes between a few days and a few weeks. "However, Lyme disease can usually be treated well," says Schaumburg. (ad)