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Risk of infection from ticks: Is TBE vaccination protection advisable for children?


TBE and Lyme disease: Health Minister warns of the risk of infection from ticks

In Bavaria only about one in three new schoolchildren is vaccinated against TBE. And this despite the fact that large parts of the federal state belong to the risk areas. The health minister of the Free State recommends that parents have their youngsters' vaccination protection checked by a pediatrician. There is no vaccination against Lyme disease, which is also transmitted by ticks.

Carrier of dangerous diseases

Health experts keep pointing out how important it is to protect yourself from ticks. The little bloodsuckers can finally transmit dangerous infectious diseases such as Lyme disease or early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE). While the former is widespread nationwide, the latter is limited to certain regions of the republic. But the TBE risk areas in Germany are increasing rapidly, as the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) recently reported. So far, ten people have contracted TBE in Bavaria this year. This was pointed out by Bavaria's Minister of Health Melanie Huml.

Only a third of those starting school are vaccinated

"Above all, those who spend a lot of time in nature - for example when hiking or in their own garden - should get vaccinated," says Huml.

The minister 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. "

The politician pointed out that since the reporting obligation for TBE diseases in 2001, more and more regions in Bavaria have been declared a TBE risk area. In Bavaria, 88 of the 96 districts and independent cities are now classified as TBE risk areas.

According to the State Office for Health and Food Safety (LGL), the number of TBE cases in Bavaria rose to 234 throughout 2017.

In extreme cases, infection can be fatal

TBE can be particularly difficult 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.

According to doctors, some patients also develop meningitis and cerebral inflammation with the risk of damage to the spinal cord. In extreme cases, the disease is fatal.

No drugs are available against TBE itself, only the symptoms can be treated.

Ticks can also transmit Lyme disease

Ticks can also transmit the infectious disease Lyme disease. So far, 473 people have contracted this disease in Bavaria this year.

Not every tick bite causes Lyme disease, but if you notice a blush (a ring-shaped reddening around the tick bite site) after staying in the countryside, you should definitely see a doctor - even if you haven't noticed any of the creepy crawlies.

"The occurrence of borrelia in ticks fluctuates very strongly both regionally and in small areas and can be up to 30%," writes the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on its website.

According to the experts, scientific studies have shown that around five percent of people bitten by a tick become infected with Borrelia.

"Only a very small proportion of those infected, around one percent, develop symptoms of the disease," says the RKI.

Protection through vaccination is not possible

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.

Vaccination cannot protect you against Lyme disease. However, the disease can be treated well with antibiotics.

“The sooner this happens, the better. It is also important to remove ticks as quickly as possible and with a suitable tool, ”says Huml.

In 2017, a total of 3,535 Lyme infections in Bavaria were reported to the LGL. (ad)

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