Summer in the forest: how not to become bait for ticks?

Health Tips

Midsummer! At this time, all city dwellers, creating many kilometers of traffic jams, tend to merge with nature at summer cottages, picnics and just hiking in the forest or fishing. But besides the mass of positive emotions, sunbathing and relaxation, in nature, an enemy almost invisible to the naked eye lies in wait – a tick!

From low-lying branches of trees and from tall grass, it gets on the human body, sticks and can become a carrier of very serious diseases – tick-borne encephalitis, tick-borne borreliosis (Lyme disease), typhus, hemorrhagic fever, Q fever, tularemia and some other diseases.

The most serious problem this year is the problem of tick-borne encephalitis. It is this disease that is relevant for Russia this summer. In one season, an insidious tick leads to doctors tens of thousands of people. In 5-10% of those who applied, the encephalitis virus is detected.

The tick population has increased this year due to favorable weather conditions: warm winter and early spring.

Ticks get on the human body and stick, sucking out blood and letting infected saliva into the wound. It should be noted that the tick is able to suck blood hundreds of times its own weight (a well-fed tick can reach the size of the phalanx of the little finger of an adult). Ticks catch the smell of animals and humans at a distance of 10 meters.

The favorite habitats of ticks are places with high humidity, ravines, areas with tall grass, forests and their edges, roadsides (by smell, ticks determine that their potential victims, people and animals, are walking here).

The opinion that ticks jump on a person from tree branches is erroneous: these insects never jump or fall on their prey – they have special suction cups on their paws, with which they cling to a person or animal passing by.

Most often they fall on the human body from the grass,protruding sticks and blades of grass and crawl to the upper parts of the body, which created such an incorrect opinion that they fall from above.

You can “catch” a tick not only in nature – ticks live on mice and rats, which are abundant even in the metropolis. In addition, pets that have been walking on the grass can bring a tick into the house. In some cases, a tick may come to you along with a bouquet of wildflowers.

What are the symptoms of tick-borne encephalitis?

  • The incubation period (when the virus is already in the body, but does not manifest itself in any way) is up to 25 days. Average 7-14 days

  • Temperature up to 40 degrees

  • Severe headache, nausea, vomiting

  • The disease can pass completely without consequences, but paralysis, paresis, muscle atrophy, decreased intelligence, development of epilepsy are also possible.

  • In severe cases, death is recorded in 25% of cases.

How to protect yourself from ticks and encephalitis?

Ideally, a vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis is necessary, but, unfortunately, it is too late to do it this year. (it is done in several stages, and immunity is not formed immediately).

When going to nature, where tall grass grows and tree branches are low, try to leave as few bare areas of the body as possible – blouses with sleeves, long pants, sneakers and a cap will leave the tick practically no chance

If possible, postpone picnics and trips to nature until the end of July – during this period, the number of ticks will begin to decline rapidly. The peak of tick activity occurs in April – mid-July.

If you do get bitten by a tick, see a doctor immediately. Remove the tick from the skin. The easiest way to do this is to put a drop of sunflower oil on the site of the introduction of the tick. It will block the access of oxygen, and the tick itself will crawl to the surface. Do not rush to throw out or destroy the tick that has bitten you – take it with you to the doctor in a jar of wet cotton wool so that the doctors can determine whether the tick that bit you is infected or not.

Returning from nature, do not be too lazy to especially carefully check the most favorite places for the localization of ticks – armpits, scalp, inguinal region. Look also at the clothes you were wearing.

Summing up, I would like to wish everyone more warm days and fewer health problems! Be careful and the problem of ticks will definitely not affect you!

Alla GRIGORYEVA,
general practitioner

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