Not only can ticks be infected with the notorious Borelia virus, which leads to Lyme disease. They too can Infectious encephalitis, Also known as TBE. This virus is increasingly spreading in ticks in Europe, according to the latest figures from the European Center for Disease Control.
Since 2016 in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, the first TBE infection was detected in 2016. The virus is now found in 9 of 24 GGD regions. “At the moment, there are very few cases annually. But as the number increases in Europe, this could also happen in the Netherlands,” Arnold Van Fleet, a biologist at Wageningen University, told EditieNL.
Contamination doesn’t have to be serious. “Most people don’t notice it. Sometimes it leads to the flu or a fever. But in extreme cases it can cause meningitis.”
The good news: The Pfizer TBE vaccine is already available. A spokesperson for Pfizer said: “It is an option for people who spend a lot of time in nature or who are going to countries where this virus is common.” Work is also underway to develop a vaccine against Lyme disease.
However, according to biologist Arnold van Vliet, the Dutch don’t have to consider a TBE vaccine yet. “Vaccinations are being done in Austria and southern Germany, but here we are still in the research stage to find out the exact extent of the virus.”
The biologist advises everyone to pay special attention. “You can encounter ticks everywhere in the green. Most of them occur in Felloy, in wooded areas and in sand dunes. But a third of tick bites are caught in the park.”
Lars Van Driel, the Red Cross first aid instructor, stresses caution in cities, too. He told EditieNL: “I live and work in a wooded area. People here care closely about it. But sometimes I wonder if people in a city like Amsterdam realize that there are also ticks in Vondelpark.”
How do you remove ticks?
Lars Van Driel believes that many people remove ticks the wrong way. So a number of tips:
- Do not sterilize beforehand, but afterward. The moment you disinfect the area inside the tick, the tick can dry out and it will be difficult to remove it.
- Do not use tweezers.
- Read the tick remover packaging carefully. They work differently. With one you have to turn it, the other pulls the other and the other pulls.
- There are no tools near you? If the tick is not deeply embedded, you can use a bandage to remove it.
- The earlier the tick comes out, the better. So it is best to put tick remover in your car’s first aid kit, or keep it with you.
- After the bite, it’s wise to circle it and write the date in your phone or calendar. Watch to see if the red spot gets bigger. If this is the case, contact your doctor immediately.
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