Besides the possibility of pleasant emotions in nature, the warm months bring us some dangers that should not be underestimated. One is ticks. Not only do these little bloodsuckers create discomfort, but being bitten can be very dangerous to our health. In this article, we will try to outline the most important things we need to know about them - how we can protect ourselves, how to act on a bite, and what are the symptoms of the diseases they transmit.
In order to protect ourselves from ticks, we need to know some basic things about them. About 40 different types of ticks from 6 genera belonging to 2 families are found in our country (soft and hard - according to the outer shell). They are not insects, but relatives of spiders and insects. Their appearance is very similar to that of a spider. The solid adult mite (we are interested in them) has a droplet shape, eight legs, a front trunk and two eyes. Most solid ticks are three-receiver. This means that at each stage of development (such as larva, nymph, and adult), they attach to a different host. Hard ticks await their sacrifice, climbing on a plant. They cannot jump, so they wait for their prey to pass and fall unnoticed from above. Usually larvae attach themselves to the host from the ground, the nymph ascends to a low plant, and the adult mite climbs to a slightly higher height - to a high level. grass or shrub where his sacrifice awaits.
The ticks are activated by the warming of the weather - since March, and sometimes earlier if there were warmer days. The first peak in their activity is at the end of April and throughout May, during the hotter months it decreases and increases again at the end of August and especially in September. This is related, on the one hand, to their life cycle - passage at different stages in their development, and on the other - to weather conditions - moisture favors their activity.
Knowing the time and conditions of their activity, as well as the places where they stalk (mainly grassy areas and shrubs, places that animals often pass through) helps one to take adequate precautions. It is best to go with high-heeled shoes, socks and long pants in risky areas. It is also a good idea to have a long sleeve if you are going to rest in a clearing or go through bushes. It's nice that your clothes are light - you would easily notice a tick if you were comfortable. And it is best when out in the wild to use repellents. With them you can treat both skin and clothes. However, it is important to check that the repellent protects against ticks. Most of the products on the market are mainly for mosquitoes. For tick-repellent repellents, this information is explicitly provided. If this is not the case, then the product does not protect against ticks and is not suitable.
Before returning home, clean your clothes and backpack well. It is also important to carefully inspect your body when you get home. Mites prefer the soft parts of the body, so pay attention to the joints of the legs and arms, armpits and the area around the genitals.
What if you still find that the tick has stuck in you? The most important thing is not to panic. You should be aware that within 12 to 18 hours of the bite, even if the mite carries the disease, the likelihood of infection will be negligible. If you do not feel confident removing it yourself, it is best to seek medical attention. Even if you remove it yourself, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
However, what to do if you are in nature away from medical care? For these situations, you should always have a suitable tweezers or special tick extractor (there are different types), a disinfectant (alcohol or other) in your personal first aid kit, as well as an antibiotic Doxycycline (you must be sure you are not allergic to antibiotics and read the package leaflet carefully).
When removing a tick, you should pin it as close to its head as possible. You must take great care not to squeeze and crush his body, because if this happens, the blood sucked by him will return to your circulatory system and, if he is a vector, will infect you! When gripped properly, do not squeeze too tightly so that it does not break. It can move very gently and gently from left to right (the purpose is to break away from the adhesive secret with which the parasite has attached itself to the feeding site). Then just pull it gently and gradually upwards - do not pull it sharply. There is no need or sense to rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise - this is a myth. Take care not to tear the extraction of the mite that remains stuck in your body when removing it. If it does, try removing it with tweezers, or if it doesn't, with a pre-disinfected needle. If part of the tick remains stuck in your body, it will start to pick up, just like an unleashed fever or thorn. So, if you are unable to remove any part by yourself, seek medical attention as soon as possible. However, it is much more important that you do not crush the tick while removing it.
After removing the tick, disinfect the bite site. If you are away from the city, take Doxycycline as a single dose of 200 mg. within 72 hours of the bite. If you are in town, consult a doctor about this. Doxycycline is taken pre-emptively because two of the most dangerous and most commonly transmitted tick-borne diseases - Lyme disease and Marseille fever are bacterial and treated with an antibiotic. In this prevention, the pathogenic bacteria are destroyed before they are able to cause disease.
What NOT to do
What is dangerous and should not be done when removing ticks. There are some common methods of tick extraction, however, which carry a high risk of infection. The tick should not be burned with a cigarette, matches or rubbed with garlic - if this is done, it can return the suction to your circulatory system and infect you if it carries something. For the same reason, it should not be greased with cream, oil or anything else greasy. Yes, it will weaken it, but it can infect you again.
Diseases transmitted by ticks
The most common tick-borne disease in United States is Lyme disease. About 900-1000 cases are registered annually. It is treated with antibiotics (usually Doxycycline). It is very important to establish it in a timely manner so that it can heal without causing dangerous complications. Lyme disease can occur from 3 to 30 days after the bite, but in rare cases after months and even years. In the first stage, skin changes are observed. At the site of the bite, a red buffalo eye (about 4-5 cm) appears, constantly growing, lighter in the middle. The patient feels burning, itching, pain, there are flu-like complaints (general malaise, fatigue, fatigue). However, the temperature is generally not raised. If you notice any such symptoms after a bite, be sure to seek medical attention. The second stage of the disease occurs after about two months and affects different organs and systems. In 40% of cases, damage to the nervous system such as meningitis and neuritis can occur. The third stage occurs only in about 10% of patients - after the third month to two or more years. It is characterized by complications in the affected organs. Often arthritis of the large joints develops.
The next most common tick-borne disease is Martian fever. About 700-800 cases are registered annually in the country. The incubation period is 3 to 7 days after the bite. The disease is acute, beginning with high fever (39-40 degrees), accompanied by chills, joint and muscle pain. With treatment, the temperature lasts 1-2 weeks, but without more than 20 days. About the third day, a rash characteristic of the disease also appears. In the beginning, these are red spots that turn into buds. Also, a painful inflammatory process with tissue destruction occurs at the site of the bite. The bite site is covered with brown-black bark, from where the microorganisms enter the adjacent lymph nodes and bloodstream penetrate the entire body. The disease is treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics from the tetracycline group.
Other tick-borne diseases that occur in Bulgaria include Anaplasmosis, tick-borne encephalitis, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever.
Anaplasmosis is a disease that also occurs with fever. It develops from 5 to 10 days after the bite. It is accompanied by headache, muscle and joint pain. But with good prognosis, it is not so dangerous and even the patient can recover spontaneously without treatment.
The tick-borne encephalitis usually occurs only as a febrile illness (high fever). In some cases, it affects the brain or its lining (which is dangerous).
The Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever is very dangerous, but fortunately it is also the least transmitted tick-borne disease. In recent years, the number of cases registered annually in Bulgaria is only 5-6. In addition to ticks, the infection is also transmitted by contact with the patient's blood. In addition to fever, chills and muscle aches, profuse bleeding on the skin, gums and internal organs also occur. The disease can lead to death.
In conclusion, ticks can be quite dangerous, so we need to take all preventative measures. And in the case of a bite, act appropriately according to the situation.