Ticks in Belarus have become a serious problem for tourists. 15 years ago there was no such a problem. Now their number has been greatly increased. The worst thing is that the ticks in Belarus are distributors of dangerous diseases. On the territory of Belarus has been registered only two of them – the tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme borreliosis, or Lyme disease. Human infection occurs mainly through blood by the bite of the tick. But it is possible to be infected by consuming raw goat milk. In the past 10 years in Belarus annually identified 40-120 cases of tick-borne encephalitis and 500-1100 of Lyme disease cases.
Why is it important?
What is a tick?
Tick refers to the small arachnids, feed mainly on the blood of animals. Not all ticks are dangerous to humans – the most dangerous are forest ticks.
Tick activity begins in late April and ends with the onset of cold weather. The peak of tick activity occurs in May-June, but the tick bites are possible from April to October. When the soil warms up to 5-7°C the first victims of bites have been registered.
How ticks bite
The insect lives mainly in grass, seldomly – in low bushes. It is usually immobile, and moves very slowly. Usually ticks could be found on thin stalks of plants and grasses and stay in this state most of their life, waiting for the approach of the victim – human or animal. The legs are equipped with special microscopic claws that allow it to secure our position on clothing.
Once being on human skin, the tick does not burrow into the skin immediately. Bloodsucking parasite tries to climb as high as possible, so the main places of the bites are often shoulders, armpits, back and neck. Tick bites completely painless, because his saliva contains a powerful analgesic substance. Therefore, to detect an insect on the skin is difficult. Biting into human skin, it sticks to the nearest blood vessel and starts to eat, then when full, it falls off. Engorged by blood tick increases in size and can reach 10 mm in length. But the notice of the blood-sucking parasite usually happens much earlier.
How to detect a tick
To do this, you must carefully examine your body in the mirror after visiting potentially dangerous places (forest-park zones). Even if the tick is very small, most likely, you will notice a suspicious bump. “Favourite” tick’s places: scalp and ears ares, armpits, groin area, the inside of the elbow and knees – where the skin is thinner and closer adjacent vessels.
Seeing a tick, do not panic. It is better to seek medical help. Removing the tick is painless and requires no anesthesia. Extracted insect must necessarily be directed to research. Not every tick is a carrier of infectious diseases, laboratory analysis to determine mite infection.
How to remove a tick
Ticks which are cling to the body should be removed as soon as possible. The faster that is done, the less likelihood that your blood gets dangerous disease pathogen.
To remove attached ticks using special tools better: TICK ROTATING DEVICE, PEN-LASSO, TWEEZERS. Capturing a tick in any way, it should rotate around its axis. Usually after 1-3 turnover tick is removed entirely with its proboscis. If you try to pull the tick – it is likely to break.
In the absence of special devices you can remove ticks by using a thread (tie it around deep in the skin of the proboscis and rotate).
You should not press on tick’s abdomen – it is possible that squeezing will lead to release of its contents, together with the wound pathogens.
Be careful not to tear the proboscis, immersed in the skin, a wound after removing of tick should be disinfected with a solution of iodine, alcohol and etc.
During removal of a tick you should not use oils, fatty creams that clog breathing holes of a tick and provoke additional release of pathogens in human blood. A tick will not fall off and continue to release the bloodstream pathogens.
What to do after the bite
A victim must visit medical institution. What is important in the prevention of infectious diseases transmitted by ticks – as early as possible (during the first 3 days after the bite) to begin the treatment.
it is necessary to preserve the tick which has bitten you alive (at least not damaged) and bring it with you.
Remove ticks with a piece of wet cotton wool or a fresh blade of grass should be placed in a tightly sealable container (eg, glass bottle).
Dead ticks should also be placed in the container.
Ticks should be delivered to the laboratory as soon as possible to begin the study.
Prior to delivery to the lab store it in a cool place at a temperature of 4-8°C (refrigerator flask with ice, etc…). If ticks stuck to a few people, it ticks every person should be placed in a separate container, labeling containers with names of victims.
Medical study is needed to evaluate its hazard and, if necessary, prescribe the treatment.
If you are not in Minsk:
It is necessary to contact one of the centers of hygiene and epidemiology, and in case of presence of tick-borne encephalitis virus – to virology laboratory in the regional Centre for Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health.
Tick borne encephalitis
The first signs of encephalitis usually appear after 10 days or more from the time of the infection being in the blood:
- general and muscle weakness in the neck, arms and legs;
- numbness in the neck and face;
- chills, fever;
- nausea, vomiting;
- severe headache;
- coloration of neck, face, mucosa and eyes in red.
If you notice these symptoms, immediately seek medical attention of infectious diseases physician or therapist, the emergency department of infectious hospital, and in a serious condition – call an ambulance (dial 103).
Diagnosis of the disease involves laboratory blood test.
Primary measures in case of the bite of the tick are directed precisely at preventing the development of this disease, because in some cases it leads to disability or death.
Emergency prevention of tick-borne encephalitis involves administering a victim of antiviral drugs and immunoglobulin. Such measures are only effective in the first 3 days after getting the infection in human blood.
Forest tick is the main carrier of another serious disease – Lyme disease, or borreliosis, which affects the central nervous system cells, musculoskeletal system, skin and heart. The first symptoms usually are:
- redness of the skin in the area of the bite of the parasite;
- a gradual increase in the size of the red spot;
- transformation of redness from the circular spot into the ring with a pale bluish center.
If you notice such symptoms, immediately seek medical attention of infectionist, and in his absence – of the therapist.
The presence of a dangerous infection in human blood could be found only three weeks after the tick bite. Emergency treatment of tick-borne borreliosis includes receiving special medications that the doctor prescribes. If there is no adequate therapy disease becomes chronic and may lead to disability.
The tick represents a great danger to human health and life. When a blood-sucking parasite is noticed on the body you must seek medical help. The probability of occurrence of adverse effects to the human body if you have the therapy in a timely manner is extremely low.
How to protect yourself from ticks
Clothing and regular body checkups.
When visiting areas where there may be ticks, prefer wear closed footwear (shoes, boots), not sandals. Wear long trousers with puffs on pants and tuck pant legs into socks (not allowing the tick to crawl under trousers), choose jacket with puff sleeves.
Tick spends a lot of time looking for a place for a bite. Therefore, regularly inspect the clothes and body.
It is easier to notice the tick on light-colored clothes.
Repellents and acaricidal agents.
In Belarus repellents are sold in pharmacies and stores of household chemicals. Not every insect repellent is effective against ticks.
Repellents based on DEET repel mosquitoes, gnats, horseflies. Apply it on the skin and wash off after a visit to the forest. Duration of protection, contraindications and the manual how to use it are indicated on the packaging.
For protection against ticks you need to choose the repellent agents which contain at least 30% DEET. Apply them not only on the skin but also on your clothes (especially pants on). As if the tick was on the body, repellent does not disengaged it.
Remember that DEET may dissolve some synthetic materials, including fabric!
Therefore, the most efficient and comfortable to spray clothes with acaricidal agents based on pyrethroids (permethrin synthetic derivatives contained in certain types of daisies). Repellents could be used as additioins to the treatment of clothes by acaricidal agents for protection against mosquitoes, midges and other bloodsucking insects.
The most effective acaricidal agent is cypermethrin and its derivatives, after exposure to the treated clothes ticks die after a few minutes. And before its death there is no rapid increase in activity, which might have increased the risk of being bitten. The protective effect lasts for a long time (up to several weeks), so there is no need for frequent treatments.
In the evening you need to take off your clothes and inspect the body and clothes. The tick can cling to any place.