Ticks love mild weather
Ticks love mild weather
Summer is back and many people spend their time outdoors. But beware: The wet weather of recent months has increased the risk of seriously ill from tick bites.
TBE pathogen near the Arctic Circle
Monthly wet weather in Germany and the ensuing fairly late summer began to explode the ticks population and thus contributed to the fact that in many areas of Germany, the dangers of an early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE) or Lyme disease have increased significantly. In Germany, ticks are often active throughout the winter. According to experts, in Europe, more than 15,000 TBE illnesses per year can be expected. Meanwhile, ticks infected with TBE have been found in Finland 200 kilometers south of the Arctic Circle.
Strong regional differences
In Germany there are strong regional differences. For example, the health department in Uelzen, Lower Saxony, warned that almost every third tick is now infected with the Lyme disease virus. For the Altmarkkreis Salzwedel in Saxony-Anhalt, medical officer dr. Peter Wiesner the Altmark newspaper against such numbers do not confirm. According to Wiesner, only one case of Lyme disease and no case of FSME in the region is known for 2013. Dr. Daniel Ecker, senior physician of neurology in the district clinic Biberach in Baden-Württemberg explains to the situation in the south: „Both diseases play a role in Biberach, we are part of the risk area here.“
Even in regions where infection risks are rather low, it is important to protect oneself, because the consequences can be devastating. The neurologist Frank Erbguth of the Nuremberg Clinic explained that in contrast to Lyme disease, which can be treated with antibiotics, in TBEs only the symptoms can be alleviated. Only one vaccine offers almost complete protection. Erbguth advises therefore: „If you want to be sure, you should do it.“ In the case of over-50s, vaccination provides protection for up to three years and for younger people up to five years. And even though vaccination morals tend to decrease among older people, about 16 to 20 percent of people in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg have taken precautions. In the two federal states, the highest risk exists in Germany.
Bright clothes help
Lyme disease can be left without symptoms for a long time, so that symptoms that occur are no longer necessarily linked to the tick bite. It can lead to typical flu symptoms: headache, fever, joint pain, fatigue. Since a counter vaccination is not possible, advises physician Wiesner for prevention: „Light clothing helps because ticks are more visible and because light clothing does not produce so much heat. Warmth attracts ticks magically.“
Speed does not help with TBE
If one discovers a tick bite, should be acted fast. Wiesner recommends: „The tick should be removed as early and as completely as possible.“ Because after at least eight and no later than after 30 hours, the tick has injected sufficient amounts of bacteria into the body. The disease course in Lyme disease can drag on for months. Partly the symptoms only appear after years. According to Wiesner then only help „basic dry cleaning.“ By high-dose antibiotics, the disease can be defeated. He emphasized, however: „Of course that has strong side effects.“ In contrast, the rapid removal does not help against TBE. The pathogens sit in the salivary glands of the ticks and get into the human body immediately after being bitten.
Picture: Bernd Lang