Ticks were less active in 2012
Infectious diseases after tick bites decreased in 2012
The infectious diseases transmitted by ticks declined throughout Germany in 2012, according to the experts at the international tick symposium (XII International Jena Symposium on Tick-Borne Diseases) in Weimar. According to the specialists, the cause of the significant annual fluctuations in infectious diseases following a tick bite may be due to weather or temperatures.
The most common tick-borne diseases are Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). Borreliosis is caused by bacteria (Borrelia), TBE by viruses. Until Sunday, scientists from all over the world will discuss the specific challenges of tick-borne infectious diseases at the symposium in Weimar. Quite pleasing was the announcement that significantly fewer people suffered from Lyme disease after a tick bite last year than in 2011. Overall, the number of Lyme disease infections, according to Jochen Fingerle, head of the National Reference Center for Borrelia, by 20 to 30 percent lower. In absolute terms: 24 out of 100,000 inhabitants have become infected. This corresponds to a reduction of around six people per 100,000 inhabitants compared to the year 2011.
A similar tendency observed the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in the diseases of TBE. In 2012, the number of reported TBE cases was 195, while in 2011 there were still 423 TBE cases and in the year 2010 just under 300 infections were registered. Compared to the previous year, the number of TBE infections has therefore more than halved. In search of the causes of the extremely low tick activity, the experts came to the cold period in early February 2012. Here, several nights a temperature below minus ten degrees Celsius was reached. Although the evidence is lacking so far, the scientists postulated that this cold period, in which there was no protective snow, has decimated the ticks population significantly.
Ticks only become really active when the temperatures reach between eight and ten degrees Celsius over several days. Currently, it can be assumed that all ticks are still in their winter stare. But with the expected rise in temperature in the coming weeks, even the tiny bloodsucker will be active again. Especially in the almost 140 TBE risk areas special caution applies when staying outdoors. Because here, the ticks may possibly transmit viruses that can trigger a potentially life-threatening inflammation of the meninges or the brain. As concomitant symptoms of TBE infection are initially non-specific symptoms, such as headache, body aches, fever and fatigue observed. Also complaints of the digestive tract as well as nausea and loss of appetite may be due to a TBE infection. In the further course motor impairments, dizziness, speech disturbances, sensory disturbances or even paralyzes, respiratory problems and consciousness disturbances threaten.
Lyme disease initially presents as an acute infection, but may progress to a chronic stage and cause significant health problems. The bacteria spread in the organism and can affect many other organs. Accompanying symptoms include joint pain, blurred vision, touch and heart problems. Nerve inflammation in peripheral areas and a corresponding tingling in the limbs as well as other neuronal disorders are possible consequences of Lyme disease. As the nervous system is increasingly affected by a chronic course, neurological deficits of varying intensity are possible. Increasingly, sufferers show speech disorders and visual disturbances. Earache may also be part of the disease of Lyme disease.
Until Sunday, more than 180 researchers from 35 nations will present and discuss their latest research on tick-borne infectious diseases at the Zecken Symposium in Weimar. Advances in the diagnosis of pathogens and in treatment are also discussed here. Furthermore, new possibilities for prophylaxis should be presented. (Fp)
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Picture credits: Echino