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Ticks - danger from small bloodsuckers

Zecke

They are small, round and actually look quite innocent: Ticks. But these little beasts can be really nasty and can even be very dangerous. Tick bites can transmit serious diseases which eventually can also lead to death. With this article we would therefore like to inform you about these arachnids and how you can best protect yourself from them.


The tick

The tick belongs to the class of arachnids and to the group of mites, which can be easily recognized by its 8 legs. There are about 900 species of ticks worldwide, although they like to live in regions where temperatures are moderate and humidity is high. They usually climb on grasses and bushes in order to be able to attack vertebrates in the best possible way. Just like mosquitoes, they need blood from animals to survive. Ticks are well known for their perfect adaptation to their environment through their physique and behaviour.

tick

The tick: An arachnid and dangerous for vertebrates

How long do ticks live?

A tick goes through three stages in its life, from ovum to adult tick. A prerequisite for each of these stages is the absorption of blood in order to finally develop into an adult tick. In addition, female ticks need to take in more blood in order to lay their eggs.

The three stages of the tick are:

Tick larva

Nymph

Adult tick

On average a tick lives three to five years. However, if it does not find a host, it can live for several years without taking up blood. The males die already after mating and the female dies after laying her eggs. In order to survive cold winters and low temperatures, ticks fall into winter numbness below a temperature of 7 degrees to protect themselves and their bodies.

What happens during a tick bite?

Ticks bite vertebrates for one simple reason: to survive! Without blood, they cannot develop into adult ticks, as already mentioned. If a tick is in the grass and is touched by a vertebrate, the tick raises its legs and clings to the skin of its host.. It has a scissors-like mouthpiece and can thus tear the skin open perfectly. The tick stuns the bite, which is why we are not feeling it straight away.

Similar to a mosquito, the tick's saliva ensures that the blood does not clot. During the stinging process, which can take several days, the tick swallows the nutrients it has absorbed through the blood and returns excess fluid.Diseases can be transmitted through this repeated process, as certain pathogens can be found in the tick's intestine.

tick bite

After a bite the tick sucks itself full of blood

What diseases can ticks transmit?

If the tick is infected with a pathogen, these can enter the blood host's body from the tick's salivary glands or intestines via the stinging apparatus and can have very serious consequences. There is a variety of diseases that are transmitted by tick bites. Two of them are particularly relevant in Germany:

Lyme disease:

Borreliosis generally refers to various infectious diseases.A form frequently transmitted by ticks is Lyme disease, which is caused by a bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi). In the first stage there is a spreading redness of the skin, therefore every tick bite should be observed very carefully. Especially in an early phase Lyme disease can be treated very well with an antibiotic. It can be of varying severity and can affect the skin, nervous system, joints, heart and other organs. A vaccination is not possible.

FSME:

The disease TBE - early summer meningoencephalitis - can attack the meninges and central nervous system of the human brain. Vaccinations against TBE can be obtained, which is particularly recommended for people, who like to spend time outdoors and live in a risk area.

FSME

Risk areas in Germany (Source: RKI, status April 2020)

How do you treat a tick bite?

If a tick has bitten, you should react quickly to avoid the risk of certain disease. The risk of transmission increases the longer the tick sucks blood. This means you should carefully search for ticks after a stay outside. As ticks can anchor themselves very firmly in the skin of their host, you should use a tick card or tweezers to pull them out completely. After removing, it is advantageous to disinfect the bite site, preferably with alcohol or an iodine-containing ointment.

Important: If in doubt, always consult a doctor in case of tick bites!

The heat_it is not intended for the treatment of tick bites.

How can you prevent tick bites?

As ticks anchor themselves in the skin it is definitely an advantage to avoid high grass and undergrowth. If you still can't get around it, it helps to wear long clothes, because the access to the skin is blocked for the tick. In this case you should wear light-coloured clothes, because the little animals are best visible there.

Alternatively, tick repellents can be used before a walk to deter the animals.

However, since it is not always possible to avoid ticks, it is definitely worth taking tweezer with you on your next walk in the forest. You also can storing it at home, ready to hand to be prepared for the worst case scenario.


Further informations: https://www.zecken.de/de/die-zecke