Activities, Child, Health, Health and precaution

Ticks only in summer?

Ticks only in summer?

Ticks: interesting facts about the little pests

They appear inconspicuous and are nevertheless feared: small representatives of the mite order, better known as ticks. From the common wood tick to the dog tick to the alluvial forest tick, the small bloodsuckers are mainly found in nature and look for hosts. The problem: Humans are also a potential source that ticks like to use. What sounds unpleasant anyway, also brings with it a certain risk of transmitting dangerous diseases.

What are ticks?

As already mentioned, ticks belong to the mite family in the broadest sense. They are only a few millimeters in size and can come in different colors. Ticks have special mouthparts on their heads that they can use to pierce and cling to their host’s skin and suck blood. The time when ticks are active cannot be fixed in general. Basically, between March and October, the little bloodsuckers are particularly active in their search for hosts. But even in mild winters with temperatures above eight degrees Celsius, it is possible for ticks to wake up and multiply.

On the one hand, there is the common wood tick, also called Ixodes ricinus, but also the alluvial forest tick, the sheep tick, the hedgehog tick and a species called Ixodes inopinatus that was newly discovered in 2016. Which type of tick it is in an individual case can usually be found out in the context of a short assessment.

The greatest risk from tick bites is the transmission of diseases such as Lyme disease or tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). The Standing Vaccination Commission recommends vaccination against TBE, especially for people who live in risk areas or go on vacation there.

Where do ticks live?

The Centre of Disease Control and Prevention has all the informations you need about ticks, as well as a map that shows you where to find (or avoid) ticks in the US.

It is a common misconception that ticks live in trees and jump onto their hosts from there. In reality, ticks sit in taller grass, on low shrubs and in leaves on forest floors. Here they wait for a possible host to come by and then let themselves be stripped off.

Once on its host, the tick does not bite immediately. Rather, it wanders over the body for several hours, looking for a warm spot with the best possible blood supply, which is particularly suitable for sucking blood. This search can sometimes take up to 12 hours, which is why checking your body thoroughly after a walk is one of the most important measures to prevent tick bites.

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How can you prevent a tick bite?

It is not always possible to prevent a tick from clinging to clothing and searching for a suitable puncture site. The already mentioned examination of the body is therefore also important when applying further precautionary measures.

It also helps to wear closed-toe shoes that have an ankle-high shaft. Long pants that don’t leave a gap between the shoe and pants can also protect against tick bites. In addition, it is advisable not to walk through tall grass or leaves off the path, as this increases the risk of encountering a tick. If you keep away from taller grass, undergrowth and accumulations of leaves when walking, you reduce this danger.
Also read: Forest walk with children

Pets can also remove ticks. Occasionally it happens here that the tick then leaves the body of the animal in the apartment and bites a person. Dogs and cats should therefore also be thoroughly brushed and searched after an excursion into nature. To prevent tick bites in dogs, some dog owners rub coconut oil on their pets to make it harder for ticks to penetrate the fur, or give the pet garlic. However, both are measures that have not been scientifically proven and are therefore not really effective.

What to do with a tick bite?

If, despite all caution, a tick bites, it is important to act quickly. The shorter the tick can bite into the skin, the lower the risk of disease transmission. Therefore, it is worth having suitable means for removing ticks at hand not only in your own home, but also in your backpack. Special tick cards, tick tweezers or tweezers are sufficient.

To remove a tick, the animal should be grasped close to the bite site and then gently pulled out of the skin. It is important not to press or twist your body. Abrupt tearing is also a mistake, because then it can happen that parts of the mandibles remain under the skin after removal. Also, neither oil nor other substances should be dripped onto ticks, as ticks then vomit and the risk of transmission increases.

If a tick cannot be completely removed, it makes sense to consult a doctor. It is also worth keeping the tick in order to examine it for pathogens in the pharmacy or doctor’s office. Anyone who complains of fever, pain or circular redness at the puncture site after the bite should definitely consult a doctor.

[Please note: Our items cannot replace the advice of a doctor. If you have health problems, please always consult a doctor you trust!]

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