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Tick bites can trigger Lyme disease and TBE
Summer time is tick time. In the warm weather conditions, the activity of the small bloodsuckers increases and since more people are outdoors at the same time, the number of tick bites increases significantly in the summer months. If affected people discover an attached tick, they often react disgusted and slightly panicked. They try to remove the bloodsuckers as quickly as possible, but regularly make mistakes that significantly increase the health risk of the tick bite.
Because ticks can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease and the so-called early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE). The pathogens enter the human body through the puncture wound and can cause serious health problems here. In order to minimize the risk of transmission of the Lyme and FSME pathogens, the ticks should be removed as soon as possible with narrow tweezers or tick pliers, according to the annually recurring warning from the Professional Association of Pediatricians (BVKJ). According to the experts, bruising of the tick's body should be avoided in any case, since otherwise more pathogens will be released into the wound.
Do not underestimate the health risks of tick bites Due to the transmission risk of Lyme disease and TBE, the health consequences of a tick bite should not be underestimated, the BVKJ experts warn. However, the risk of infection from a tick bite does not exist everywhere in Germany. The so-called tick cards show risk areas in which the ticks potentially transmit TBE. Borreliosis pathogens, however, can carry ticks all over Germany. In addition, people can protect themselves from the dreaded early summer meningoencephalitis by vaccination if necessary, but so far there is no vaccination against Lyme disease. According to the experts in Germany, significantly more people are infected with Lyme disease by a tick bite than with TBE. Both the symptoms of a Lyme disease infection and the signs of TBE should be an urgent reason for those affected to visit a doctor, the health authorities and doctors warn.
Health effects of early summer meningoencephalitis The health effects of early summer meningoencephalitis are often much more serious than with Lyme disease and more difficult to treat. The course of the disease in early summer meningoencephalitis can be divided into two phases. The initial stage of the viral infection, in which flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache and body ache accompanied by fatigue, discomfort in the digestive tract, nausea and loss of appetite can occur. This was followed by a symptom-free period of up to two weeks, which gave those affected the impression that they had already survived the disease. Subsequently, the FSEM goes into a second phase of illness, in which, in addition to the original symptoms, other significant health impairments can occur. This often affects the neural system of those affected and the patients show the typical symptoms of meningitis (meningitis) and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Motor disorders, dizziness, speech disorders, emotional disorders, massive fatigue and sensitivity to light are just as common symptoms in the second phase of TBE as paralysis, breathing problems and impaired consciousness. If the course of the disease is particularly serious, early summer meningoencephalitis can also lead to a coma or, in the worst case, to the patient's death. The possibilities of medical treatment are extremely limited and around 70 percent of TBE patients suffer from lengthy consequential damage, said the expert Dr. Reinhard Kaiser, chief physician of neurology at the Pforzheim City Clinic in March at a press conference at the University of Hohenheim.
850,000 Lyme infections every year in Germany At first glance, the consequences of Lyme disease are less dramatic for health. But the impression can be deceiving here too. Because although antibiotics can be used to fight Lyme disease relatively efficiently in the early stages, the disease often goes into a chronic stage and can then result in considerable health problems for those affected. According to the experts of the German Lyme Society, around 850,000 people develop Lyme disease each year in Germany, whereby the diagnosis of the disease is made considerably more difficult by the extremely variable symptoms. This also explains why a large number of Lyme diseases progress to a chronic stage before treatment is started. Borreliosis infections can also be broken down into various disease stages, with a red, widening rash (erythema migrans) around the injection site being observed relatively frequently in the initial phase immediately after the tick bite. This is a typical sign of a Lyme disease infection. Furthermore, flu-like symptoms such as general fatigue, fever, headache, muscle and joint pain also appear in the initial stage of Lyme disease. The non-specific symptoms are often accompanied by inflammatory symptoms such as conjunctivitis, swelling of the lymph nodes and lymph nodes, inflammation of the pharyngeal mucosa (pharyngitis) and bronchitis.
Chronic Lyme disease causes massive health problems If the Lyme infection is not treated in the initial phase, the second stage of the disease sets in after weeks - sometimes only after months. The pathogens begin to spread in the body and can affect numerous other organs. Symptoms include changing joint pain, visual disturbances, disturbances of the sense of touch and heart problems. Spinal cord diseases, neuritis in peripheral areas and other neuronal disorders are also possible consequences of Lyme disease infection. In the second stage of the disease, the disease pathogens affect not only other organs, joints and muscles, but also the central and peripheral nervous system. If successful treatment is not carried out in this serious phase of the disease, Lyme disease threatens to transition to a chronic stage of the disease. Chronic Lyme disease brings massive health problems for those affected and can trigger far-reaching impairments in everyday life. The previous symptoms intensify and new ones are added. In particular, the nerve pathways and ends as well as the joints - especially the knees and ankles - are affected. The damage to the central nervous system can also trigger side effects such as speech disorders, visual disturbances, sleep disorders, earache or cysts.
Avoiding tick bite infections - but how? To avoid infection from a tick bite, the experts recommend taking certain precautions when staying in the country. Body-covering clothing, sturdy shoes and a thorough search of the whole body when returning from nature form the basis here. The experts warn that anyone who discovers an attached tick should not try to remove it with supposed tricks such as oil, glue or alcohol, but instead use fine tweezers to carefully loosen the bloodsuckers without twisting or squeezing the tick's body. If the animal's head leaves and gets stuck in the wound, the risk of inflammation of the wound increases. That is why tact is required. If you don't dare to do this, you can always get help from a doctor, who can safely remove the tick with appropriate tools. However, those affected should not wait too long because the shorter the time the animals adhere, the lower the risk of infection from a tick bite. (fp)
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