Ticks

Latest update: - Authors: Mieke Croughs, Ula Maniewski-Kelner

Ticks are small, spider-like parasites that can attach to the skin of humans and animals to suck their blood. A tick bite is usually harmless and painless, but ticks can be infected with diseases which can be transmitted to humans. Examples of these include Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis, African tick bite fever, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever and scrub typhus.

Risk areas

Infections caused by ticks occur all over the world. The main risk in Europe is for Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis.

Prevention

Long grass

Stay on the footpaths and do not walk through long grass.

Camping

Do not camp at the edge of the forest or campsite.

Protective clothing

Cover your body with clothing: 

  • Tuck the legs of your trousers into your socks. 
  • You can also wear clothing that has been impregnated with permethrin. 
  • Wear sturdy, high-fitting shoes. 
  • Ensure that young children wear a cap when walking outdoors. 
  • Wear light-coloured clothing so that ticks are easier to see.

Insect-repellent products

Use insect-repellent products on the skin.  

DEETIR 3535, (p)icaridine or citrodiol extractof eucalyptus oil repel ticks, but these products work less effectively and for shorter periods against tick bites than mosquito bites.

Inspection

Inspect the whole body systematically after walking in nature: 

  • Head 
  • Hairline 
  • Behind the ears 
  • Armpits 
  • Seam of the buttocks 
  • Groin 
  • Backs of knees 
  • Between the toes 

If you are camping, inspect your body at least once a day. 

Also inspect your clothing. Remove ticks by washing the clothes at sixty degrees or placing them in the tumble-dryer for fifteen minutes.

Tick bite

Have you found a tick on your body?

  • Remove the tick as soon as possible: gently and in one smooth movement using a fine pair of tweezers or a tick card, without squeezing the rear part of the tick.
  • Do not apply ether, alcohol or oil to the tick, do not squash them, burn them or twist them.
  • After removal, disinfect the area around the tick bite using 70% alcohol.
  • Record the date and the position of the bite.
  • Keep an eye on the area for three months. Consult a doctor if a red ring appears or if you experience flu-like symptoms such as a fever.   

For severe itching, use:

  • A steroid cream applied once at night (only once due to the risk of wound infection)
  • An antihistamine (medicines to treat allergic reactions)

No further action is required as long as there are no signs of infection or allergy.

Seek medical advice in the case of severe symptoms, such as fever or a severe allergic reaction.

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