Ticks: You should know this with tick bites



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What should be considered with ticks and tick bites

While tick bites are harmless in themselves, the small bloodsuckers can transmit Lyme disease and TBE. With rising temperatures, the risk of being bitten by a tick increases. At the annual meeting of the German Lyme Disease Society (DBG), experts will discuss, among other things, therapeutic options for Lyme disease.

Ticks can transmit Lyme disease and TBE. The warm temperatures attract nature lovers outdoors. When walking through the forest, however, there is a danger that is often underestimated. Although ticks are not dangerous at first, they can transmit pathogens that cause serious diseases. These include so-called Lyme disease and a form of meningitis, TBE. The Thuringian State Forest Agency therefore expressly warned of ticks that become active at around seven degrees and prefer spring and summer on forest meadows, grassy old wood stands and roadsides. Therefore, skin and clothing should be searched for the little bloodsuckers after every walk in the forest.

Although Lyme disease has been known and researched for a long time, the diseases continue to be a mystery. “Significant progress has been made in recent years. Reliable therapy is still a big problem. We are not there yet, ”reported Kurt E. Müller, chairman of the German Lyme Society (DBG), before the association's annual meeting in Schweinfurt. “The diagnosis is not made with sufficient certainty. Findings are often interpreted differently, and it is not uncommon for them to be assessed differently when Lyme disease requires treatment, ”said Müller. As part of the congress, around 140 doctors from Europe and America will discuss, among other things, better treatment options.

Lyme disease is very different The most well-known symptom of Lyme disease is the so-called blush. However, the red ring on the skin only occurs in around a third of those affected, reports the DBG. In addition, fever, muscle and joint pain as well as swollen lymph nodes can occur. The symptoms usually appear within four weeks of the tick bite. If Lyme disease is diagnosed, treatment is usually with antibiotics. However, the disease is often not recognized. Then, later on, serious inflammation of the joints, the so-called arthritis, as well as heart muscle or nerve infections can occur.

So far there are no exact numbers of cases of infection and illness in Germany. "There are extremely contradicting figures because there is no uniform recording," explains Müller. "There are figures that indicate that around 0.5 percent of the population is diagnosed with Lyme disease each year." According to the National Reference Center for Borrelia in Erlangen, there are approximately 60,000 to 100,000 new cases in the Federal Republic each year.

Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, where most diseases occur, are particularly at risk. Overall, however, the spread of ticks that transmit Lyme disease is inconsistent. But it is increasing everywhere, reported Müller. According to experts, Lyme disease is still one of the underestimated infectious diseases. After all, there is an obligation to report Lyme disease in East Germany and Rhineland-Palatinate. Bavaria wants to follow suit. Health Minister Marcel Huber from the CSU explains: "Climate change could lead to better living conditions for ticks and borreliosis in Bavaria." In contrast to early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE), which is also transmitted by ticks, there is No vaccine for Lyme disease so far.

Wear long trousers to protect against tick bites. To protect against tick bites, experts recommend body-covering clothing with tight cuffs on socks, trouser legs and sleeves. Walkers can also pull their socks over their pants to prevent the tiny bloodsuckers from having access to free skin. Light-colored clothing is also better than dark-colored clothing, as this makes it easier for the ticks to be noticed and removed before the tick bites. After each stay outdoors or in the forest, the skin should be checked thoroughly for ticks. Experts also advise walkers to always stay on the trails and avoid bushes or undergrowth accordingly.

Insect repellents do not guarantee 100% protection against ticks, but can be used in addition to other protective measures. Basically ticks prefer thin and warm skin areas, so that the back of the knees, crotch, arms, neck and head are particularly at risk. In children, the ticks mostly bite their heads, while adults are usually affected on the legs.

What to do about tick bites? If a tick is bitten on the body, it should be removed as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of Lyme disease or TBE. Only a few pathogens are normally transmitted within the first 24 hours after the tick bite. To remove the small bloodsuckers, tweezers or so-called tick pliers should be used. The animal is grabbed by the head and slowly pulled out. It is advisable to see a doctor after the tick bite for safety, if this has been done in an area known for Lyme disease or TBE. The bite site should be observed closely in the following days. If symptoms such as blushing appear, those affected should also immediately go to the doctor.

Unfortunately, with the widely acclaimed home remedies for ticks such as glue or oil for suffocating the animal, the desired effect is usually not achieved. Such measures even increase the risk of infection, since the ticks empty their stomach contents into the bite wound and viruses and bacteria enter the human body. (ag)

Read on:
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Doctors: Carefully remove ticks with tweezers
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Prevention: Don't panic about ticks

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