How to protect yourself from ticks
If the sun shows up more frequently after winter, the ticks also become active. Although a tick bite is not dangerous at first, the small bloodsuckers can transmit unpleasant pathogens that can sometimes cause serious diseases such as Lyme disease or early summer meningo-encephalitis (TBE). However, those who spend a lot of time outdoors can significantly reduce the risk of a tick bite with simple measures.
Ticks can transmit Lyme disease and TBE. Even a long, hard winter with temperatures down to minus 20 degrees can not harm ticks. The little bloodsuckers are active again at plus five to six degrees and regularly look for new hosts for their meal. In addition to pets such as dogs, people are often bitten by ticks. This is usually harmless, but the arachnids can also secrete dangerous pathogens with their saliva. Early summer meningo encephalitis (TBE) is particularly feared, and in addition to flu-like symptoms, it can also be associated with life-threatening inflammation of the brain and meninges. Above all, people who spend a lot of time outdoors in the risk areas between April and November, such as forest workers or foresters, are advised by the Robert Koch Institute's constant vaccination commission on TBE vaccination.
In addition to TBE, ticks can also transmit the infectious disease Lyme disease. All organs, the nervous system and the joints can be affected by the borrelia. Vaccination against Lyme disease does not exist. But simple measures can usually be used to prevent tick bites.
Measures to prevent tick bites
“Ticks usually lurk on low growing plants, shrubs and grasses as well as in the undergrowth. If you smell a potential host, let yourself fall on it, bite and start sucking blood, ”explained Dr. Bernhard Steiner.
To protect themselves from the small arachnids, "body-covering clothing with tight cuffs on the trouser legs, socks and sleeves is usually sufficient". In addition, the socks can be pulled over the pants to prevent ticks from accessing the skin. After the trip outside, the entire body should be searched for ticks. If a tick is discovered in the process, it must be removed as quickly as possible, because TBE viruses can spread in the human body after only a few minutes, and Borrelia bacteria need about twelve to 24 hours to cause Lyme disease. When removing the tick, care should be taken to remove the whole animal. If the head gets stuck in the skin, this can lead to painful inflammation. The most suitable are so-called tick pliers, which are available, for example, in the pharmacy, or conventional tweezers. However, supposed household remedies such as glue, nail polish remover or oil to suffocate the tick should be avoided as this increases the risk of infection. The animals empty their stomach contents into the bite site and release more bacteria and viruses.
If you get reddening of the skin or flu-like symptoms after a tick bite, you should see a doctor if the skin becomes red or swollen around the bite site. Normally, antibiotics are given for several weeks, the duration of the treatment depending on the stage of the disease associated with Lyme disease. Medical advice should also be sought if you experience flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills.
There is no causal, antiviral therapy for TBE. Treatment only focuses on relieving individual symptoms. Intensive medical therapy is necessary for severe courses. (ag)
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