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Check children thoroughly for ticks after playing in nature
The district of Donau-Ries in Swabia, like many other regions in southern Germany, was designated as a TBE risk area by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). In addition to Lyme disease, the dangerous early summer meningoencephalitis can also be triggered by tick bites. Health experts therefore advise vaccination against TBE.
Parents should also search their children thoroughly for ticks after playing outdoors. If an animal has already sucked in, it should be removed as quickly as possible with the help of a pair of tweezers or tweezers. If there is redness around the bite or on another part of the body, a doctor should be consulted immediately. Because Lyme disease - an infectious disease against which there is no vaccination - could be the cause. However, the disease can usually be cured quickly with antibiotic therapy. In an interview, Dr. Rainer Mainka, head of the health department Donau-Ries, and Utta Petzold, medical doctor at Barmer GEK, what to watch out for in the tick season.
Ticks can transmit Lyme disease and TBE
"From spring to late autumn, you should protect yourself well if you are outside," said the expert. Because the consequences of a tick bite can be dramatic. Between ten and 20 percent of the animals are carriers of Lyme disease, which, if left untreated, can cause joint and muscle inflammation. There is also an increased risk of TBE in the Donau-Ries district, an infectious disease that can cause inflammation of the meninges, brain and spinal cord.
While antibiotics are a good way to manage Lyme disease, there is no causal therapy for TBE. Only individual complaints can be alleviated. In severe cases, paralysis is the result. In the worst case, the patient dies from the infection. “Therefore, you should definitely get vaccinated against TBE,” explains Mainka. So far, five Lyme disease and no TBE diseases have been registered this year.
Beware of ticks
The population, but also holidaymakers in the risk areas should therefore be careful. "But there is no reason to panic," says the expert. In addition to TBE vaccination, the main thing is to protect yourself well against ticks. They usually lurk in tall grass or in low shrubbery at people's knees. "It can also be a park in the city," explains Mainka. It is advisable to wear long trousers and put on the stockings so that the tick has no access to the skin when strolling through grass. Back home, the body should be searched for the animals. "Especially in places that are warm and damp, because the ticks particularly like it there," says the head of the health department.
Parents should also ensure good tick protection for their children. "It would be ideal if the little ones wear stockings, shoes, long trousers and long-sleeved tops," explains Utta Petzold, a doctor at Barmer GEK. At high temperatures, when long clothes are too warm, it makes sense to check the children thoroughly for ticks after playing in the green.
Mosquito repellants can also be applied to protect against ticks. The manufacturer will tell you on the packaging whether the respective product is also effective with ticks.
Remove ticks as quickly as possible
If a tick is found that has already bitten, it should be removed as quickly as possible. Because the longer the animal has been in the skin, the greater the risk that bacteria will be transferred from the tick to humans. There are special tick pliers and loops to pull the tick out of the skin. "It is important not to squeeze the tick together so that possible pathogens are not pushed out," says Mainka. If you don't dare to do that, you can also have the animal removed by a doctor. This also applies if the tick's head gets stuck in the skin when trying to remove the animal. The Johanniter offices in Swabia also offer free tick cards. "To do this, you put it directly over the skin and carefully pry out the tick," the newspaper quoted from a press release by the Johanniter. Adhesive tape is also said to help as a tool.
Adhesive, oil or other means are taboo to stifle the tick. As a result, the animal releases more saliva and stomach contents into the wound in agony, which significantly increases the risk of infection.
If the tick has been removed successfully, it is advisable to observe the bite site. If a redness develops that spreads or migrates, the affected person could have been infected with Lyme disease. Then going to the doctor is essential, says Mainka. The infection can be treated well with antibiotic therapy. "And the sooner that happens, the better." (Ag)
Image: Tamara Hoffmann, pixelio.de