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Ticks: alarm in Germany? Lyme disease and early-summer meningoencephalitis (TBE) are two diseases that can be caused by ticks. There is a lot of misinformation about both diseases, including prevention, consequences and treatment, and about ticks themselves.
Lyme disease and early-summer meningoencephalitis (TBE) are two diseases that can be caused by ticks. There is a lot of misinformation about both diseases, including prevention, consequences and treatment, and about ticks themselves. Frequency of occurrence: According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), there were 313 cases of TBE and 5707 cases of Lyme disease in Germany in 2009. Cases of Lyme disease only have to be reported in the new federal states. Furthermore, according to the RKI, "five to 35 percent of ticks" are infected nationwide with the causative agent of Lyme disease, the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. In TBE, which is mostly common in southern Germany, up to five percent of ticks, the common woodbuck (Ixodes ricinus), should be able to spread the TBE virus.
Symptoms and consequences: TBE is associated with flu-like symptoms such as body and headaches, fever and possibly vomiting. As a result, about a third of those affected can develop a meningitis or inflammation of the brain. Around ten percent of these are said to be able to retain manifest and irreversible damage to the nervous system (for example, deafness or lambing).
Lyme disease usually shows a characteristic reddish circular courtyard at the point where the tick stitches after up to two weeks, which grows steadily larger. Subsequently, many patients get non-specific symptoms like those with TBE, but possibly also swollen lymph nodes. About one in five people with Lyme disease can get an infection in their organ system. If nerves, the heart or the brain are affected, this can result in inflammation of the meninges or myocardium, cardiac arrhythmia, numbness or paralysis. A specialty is the so-called Lyme arthritis. These are joint inflammations that can still occur one to two years after the infection. About one in ten people with Lyme disease can affect one or more joints.
Treatment: There is vaccination against TBE, but not against Lyme disease. The FSME vaccination is recommended by the official authorities for the risk areas of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and partly Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse for many stays outdoors. Because the symptoms are quite non-specific, Lyme disease is often difficult to diagnose. Antibiotics are given when diagnosed.
Ticks and their bites: Ticks do not sit on trees, but in grass up to knee-high. On average, an estimated two percent of bites are said to lead to infection. If you spot the tick immediately and move it away from what is usually a thin area of skin to which it has attached itself within half a day, a Borrelia infection is more than unlikely. It is best not to treat the tick with any means, but simply to remove it close to the injection site with the head. There are now special tick pliers for this. It is enough for exercise, which usually has many dog owners, but also normal tweezers.
Prevention: The ticks carry the pathogens into the human organism with their saliva, which they also use to numb the puncture site. It is therefore unfavorable to irritate the tick too much when pulling it out, for example by squeezing it or treating it with chemical agents. A myth that stubbornly persists is that you should turn the tick in a certain direction when pulling it out. So far there is no clue - the direction seems to matter, the main thing is that it goes quickly and the head comes out.
The best preventive measure is to wear long clothes. White is suitable as a color, so the black crawling animals are more noticeable. After a day outdoors, it is of course helpful to examine predestined areas for ticks. Especially in skin folds such as the back of the knees, armpits, groin and genital area and on the neck and head should be searched. (Thorsten Fischer, non-medical practitioner osteopathy, April 15, 2010)
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