Ticks are active from 6 ° C
“Ticks are active from an air temperature of around 6 ° C and leave the ground, which previously served as winter quarters,” said Volker Gebhardt, Thuringia Forest Board member. The nationwide around 20 tick species can transmit over 60 diseases, most often Lyme disease, rarely the TBE. Borreliosis often remains undetected due to flu-like symptoms, so those affected – often foresters, forest owners, foresters, gardeners or forest visitors – often fail to receive timely antibiotic treatment. Adults and children can be vaccinated preventively against the much less common, yet dangerous TBE that is also transmitted by ticks.
Few tips from foresters help people to visit the forest at low risk
Important for the forest visitor: do not leave forest paths, avoid meadow crossings with high grass growth, as well as clearings, bushes, undergrowth, streams and rivers. The ticks like to sit there on sunbathed grasses and twigs, predominantly at a height of 30-60 cm, and can be stripped off by a host animal or by humans as they pass. They recognize their victim by the smell of sweat. “Therefore, immediately after a visit to the forest, check the body for possible tick infestation, especially the back of the knee, groin area and neck, and the whole body of children,” recommends Gebhardt. Wearing light, closed clothing, including footwear, helps to identify or ward off the dark brown ticks or nymph stages at an early stage. Wearing socks over trousers is also a tried-and-tested way to prevent the tick from moving from the garment to the skin. There are also effective lotions, creams and sprays that are repellent to ticks. Pets or pets, such as dogs or horses, should also be checked for tick infestation.
What to do if the worst comes to the worst?
The best protection against TBE disease is preventive vaccination because the virus is transmitted immediately the first time you suck blood. The best protection against the more common Lyme disease is the quick removal of the tick, since the bacteria are not transported into the wound from the tick’s intestinal tract until several hours after sucking. The longer the tick sucks, the greater the likelihood of this type of infection. Blood-sucking ticks stuck into the skin quickly, but carefully, using tick pliers or a tick card to cover the tick’s head area, pull the animal out of the skin against the direction of the puncture – as it were in reverse. If this does not succeed because the arachnid has stuck in, Gebhardt recommends going to the doctor to have the bloodsuckers removed professionally and to undergo any necessary medication. Never spray, rub, burn or scrape off the tick.
If the Southeast European riparian tick was first detected in Germany in 2006, the tropical Hyalomma tick was discovered in Germany last year. It is twice the size of the common wooden trestle and transmits the dangerous Congo fever. This type of tick perceives a host up to ten meters and actively approaches it. Experts blame increasing global warming for the spread of these exotic tick species in Germany.