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Ticks. Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis. Disease statistics in the first half of 2024

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The number of confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Poland is growing. From the beginning of the year to the end of June, there were 9,134. This is more than in the same period last year. In the last six months, 159 cases of tick-borne encephalitis have also been recorded.

The statistics come from data from the National Institute of Public Health – National Institute of Hygiene on infectious diseases.

The list covers the period from January 1 to June 30, 2024. During the same period in 2023, there were 7,714 cases of Lyme disease and 150 cases of tick-borne encephalitis.

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Tick ​​in the skin – what to do

The common tick is an arachnid that goes through three stages of its life cycle – from larva to nymph to adult in 2–3 years. In order to transform into the next form, it must drink the blood of an animal or human. It lives mainly in deciduous and mixed forests, grasslands, dense thickets, ferns, as well as in city parks and on the green edges of housing estates.

If a tick bites, it should be removed from the body as soon as possible. It should not be greased, petroled, twisted or squeezed. The tick should be gently grasped at the skin with tweezers and pulled upwards. Instead of tweezers, you can use miniature suction pumps or plastic tick traps, which can be purchased at a chemist's. After removal, the bite site should be thoroughly disinfected.

How to remove a tick?TVN24

If a large part of the tick's body, such as the head, remains during removal, you should see a doctor. Smaller parts of the tick that remain under the skin during removal usually do not increase the risk of infection. In such cases, washing and disinfecting the wound will be enough.

Not all ticks carry Lyme disease bacteria, but during a bite they can also transmit other bacteria and viruses into the bloodstream, including tick-borne encephalitis.

Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis – symptoms

Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is caused by spirochetes of the Borrelia genus. In the initial stage, most infected people develop a painless rash with a clearing in the center. Skin lesions are sometimes accompanied by flu-like symptoms: fever or low-grade fever, a feeling of malaise, fatigue, headaches, muscle and joint pain.

Among the late symptoms of Lyme disease in adults, for example, atrophic dermatitis is mentioned. It is accompanied by arthritis and neurological changes. Untreated Lyme disease can lead to many serious neurological complications, heart disorders or joint diseases. A hospital stay and rehabilitation may be necessary.

In turn, tick-borne encephalitis is an acute viral disease that is often associated with neurological complications. In some infected individuals, the central nervous system is affected. It can also cause inflammation of the spinal cord, inflammation of the meninges, or inflammation of the brain and meninges. Vaccines are available against tick-borne encephalitis.

Facts and myths about ticks

Facts and myths about ticks

How to protect yourself from ticks?

To protect yourself from being bitten by a tick, you should avoid walking on overgrown river banks, among tall grass, in forest marshes, because this is the natural habitat of ticks. If you are going on such a walk, you should wear high boots, long sleeves and long pants, and a head covering. In addition, you should use tick repellents, e.g. creams, sprays, oils.

After a walk, remember to shake out your clothes to remove any ticks that have not yet attached themselves to your skin, and check your entire body, paying particular attention to the areas around the belly, breasts, groin, and knees.

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