A tick bite and the possible consequences
The most important points in brief
- Ticks are a serious threat in spring and summer.
- Not the tick itself, but the germs and viruses that it transports can possibly be transmitted to humans in the event of a bite.
- These pathogens can trigger different forms of TBE and Lyme disease.
- TBE is caused by a viral infection, whereas Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.
The tick has become a threat in Central Europe. Due to global warming, regions are now also affected in which it used to be significantly colder on an annual average, for example in northern climes or in the mountains - and thus also in Switzerland. The small bloodsuckers occur at altitudes of up to 2,000 meters and sometimes even beyond. The biggest problem with this special order of mites, however, is not that they drink a few milliliters of blood, but that they can transmit dangerous diseases if they are not removed immediately. An overview.
TBE can occur when ticks transmit a certain virus
The disease known as early summer meningoencephalitis is transmitted by a special virus. Not every tick carries this virus with it, and not every tick that carries it automatically infects its human host into which it bites. Nevertheless, one should not underestimate the danger of TBE.
In addition to short-term symptoms such as headache, body aches and fever, like the flu, meningitis - this is an inflammation of the meninges - can develop in the second stage of the disease, which means increased headaches and can cause the neck to stiffen . This in turn increases the headache enormously. In the worst case, infected people develop speech and consciousness disorders or suffer from paralysis.
Lyme disease - consequence of a bacterial infection
The TBE symptoms are bad, but they subside after a certain time - and there is an effective vaccination available, as against many viral diseases. This must be refreshed every three to five years. On the other hand, there is no effective prevention for Lyme disease, which can also spread from ticks to humans. The cause here is the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium, which can enter our bloodstream via the tick's saliva.
The good news: First of all, not every tick carries these bacteria, estimates also go up to a maximum of 20 percent. Second, the pathogen is not transmitted every time an infected tick bites. However, the longer a tick is not completely removed, the greater the likelihood that the germs will get into the human blood via the saliva.
Borreliosis has different forms
First of all, a ring-shaped reddening around the bite point indicates an infection with the bacterium. The reddening appears a few days, at the latest a few weeks after the bite. In 90 percent of infections, the symptoms persist, which are similar to those of the flu, often accompanied by joint and muscle pain. One then speaks of a joint borreliosis. Neuroborreliosis develops in ten percent of the diseases and can cause inflammation of the facial nerves. This leads to facial paralysis.
If the bacterium attacks the spinal cord, severe pain occurs, which can only be relieved by special medication prescribed by a doctor. Borreliosis can only be treated with certain antibiotics. Sometimes the tick bite triggers a severe reddening of the skin, the so-called acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans Herxheimer. The skin suffers severe pain, and tissue can even shrink. Antibiotics must also be used here.
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