More and more TBE cases: How to protect yourself from ticks
Ticks spread in more and more regions of Germany and also cause more illnesses. Health experts explain how to protect yourself from diseases that are transmitted by the small bloodsuckers.
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 scissors-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. According to experts, the number of cases caused by ticks increased.
Rapid tick removal is important
The Hamburg Barmer Krankenkasse recently reported that TBE infections have increased further.
One who is familiar with the parasites explains what to look for in connection with ticks.
"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 duration of the tick's suction," 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. You can get vaccinated against them. However, according to health experts, this is often not done.
Bavaria's Minister of Health Melanie Huml recently said: “Currently, only about a third of new school children in Bavaria are vaccinated against TBE. Children between the ages of five and nine are particularly affected. I therefore recommend that parents have their children's vaccination coverage checked by a pediatrician. "
"Above all, those who spend a lot of their time in nature - for example when hiking or in their own garden - should get vaccinated," says Huml.
According to experts, about a third of those infected develop symptoms of the disease.
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 communication 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 event of a tick bite, you should use fine tweezers to grab 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)