Never before have there been so many TBE cases caused by ticks in Germany as last year. The bloodsuckers are increasingly moving from the south to the north.
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They're kind of gross, but that's not even the worst of it: ticks transmit dangerous diseases like borreliosis or early summer meningoencephalitis, or TBE for short. Why more people are contracting TBE and how best to protect yourself from tick-borne infections in Bremen and the surrounding area is the subject of Dr. Masyar Monazahian, virologist at the Lower Saxony State Health Office, Bremen Two explains.
Mr. Dr. Monazahian, why have so many people fallen ill with TBE in the last year? On the one hand, there were many more ticks, but I also think that more people were out in the open due to corona. Walks, hiking, cycling – this also meant that we had a higher contact with ticks. The whole still in risk areas. Then these numbers come about. How can you tell if you have TBE?? TBE symptoms are similar to those of the flu. First you get a fever, then usually follows an interval in which first nothing happens and then there is another fever – up to 40 degrees. In addition, symptoms include headaches, aching limbs and even inflammation of the brain. After such symptoms one should call the family doctor immediately and also think of FSME.
How to remove ticks – and how not to
Defe r with fingers
Actually, the risk areas were more in southern Germany – has that changed?? Yes, we have been observing this for several years. We have, concerning FSME, more and more a south-north-drift. Since 2019, the Robert Koch Institute has designated the district of Emsland as a risk area for TBE in Lower Saxony. There is already something in motion. We also see cases in other areas time and again, but they are not enough for the RKI to make it a risk area.
Dr. Masyar Monazahian is a virologist at the Lower Saxony State Health Office. Picture: DPA | Sebastian Kahnert How does it look like in Bremen? Bremen is still spared: Since 2001 there has not been a single registered case of TBE. But ticks are still there and you have to think about the other infectious diseases that they transmit. For whom is it recommended to get vaccinated against TBE?? It is recommended by the STIKO (Standing Commission on Vaccination) if you are traveling to a risk area. Then you should really think about TBE vaccination. The areas are all designated. But even in non-risk areas, if you spend a lot of time in the great outdoors – professionally or recreationally – you should consider getting vaccinated against TBE. How high is the risk of contracting TBE after a tick bite?? We actually only have exact figures from the risk areas: It is amed that about 0.1 to 5 percent of ticks carry this virus. In the case of non-risk areas, it is unfortunately not possible to determine how high the risk is. In the case of borrelliosis, we know that 6 percent of infections really do lead to illness, but not necessarily severely. How do I best protect myself from ticks?? Going into the cellar can not be the solution. No, of course you should spend as much time as possible in nature. The only important thing is to check for ticks after your stay. As a preventive measure, you can also apply tick repellents to your skin and also to your clothing – but keep in mind that these repellents only have a limited period of effectiveness. If a tick has bitten you, you should stay calm and pull it out carefully with tweezers or something else, disinfect the bite site, observe it and if symptoms appear after a week, you should consult your family doctor.
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