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Many myths have arisen around ticks. Are ticks only found in forests and active only in summer? Is erythema always a sign of Lyme infection? Should the tick be wrung out with fingers or tweezers, or will it come out by itself when greased? We debunk 12 of the most popular myths about ticks.

Ticks( Ixodida ) are arachnids from the mite subgroup. We know about 900 species that occur in 3 families: soft ticks, or band ticks, and two families of hard ticks: ticks andNuttalliellidae . All ticks are ectoparasites of vertebrates, and during feeding they transmit dangerous tick-borne diseases.

Tickshave no natural enemies, so there are more and more of them. We are afraid of infection with dangerous diseases transmitted by ticks, but do we really know how to avoid them?

MYTH: Ticks need human blood to live

NOT NECESSARY.Ticks actually need blood to turn from a larva to a nymphand from there to an adult. They also need it so that the female can lay eggs.

These parasites feed on the blood of vertebrates, but preferably forest animals, rodents, birds and squirrels, andthey feed on human blood only because of the lack of better food sources.Interestingly, usually enough is enough one feeding at each stage (unless it has been interrupted and then they wish to complete it on the same host).

MYTH: Ticks suffer from Lyme disease

NO.Ticks do not get sick themselves, they only transmit infectionsif they are themselves infected. The most famous tick-borne diseases caused by microbes are:

  • Lyme disease - caused by spirochetes of the genusBorrelia burgdorferi ,afzeliiigariniitransmitted by ticksIxodes
  • bartonellosis - caused byBartonella henselaeiBartonella quintana , transmitted by ticks of the genusIxodes
  • Granulocytic anaplasmosis - caused byAnaplasma hagocytophilum , most commonly transmitted byAmblyommaandIxodes
  • Babesia (piroplasmosis) - caused by protozoaBabesia divergensiBabesia microt , transmitted by ticks fromfamiliesIxodes
  • tick-borne encephalitis (tick-borne encephalitis) - causes flavivirus, the European subtype of the virus is mainly transmitted by common tickIxodes ricinus , while the Siberian and Far Eastern subtype by ticks Ixodes persulcatus
  • tularemia - caused by the bacteriumFrancisella tularensis , while in Central Europe the carriers of this bacterium are ticks of the genusDermacentor reticulatusand Ixodes ricinus
  • neoerlichiosis - caused by the bacteriumCandidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensistransmitted byIxodes ricinus
  • Q fever - caused by a bacteriumCoxiella burnetti
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever - caused by a bacteriumRickettsia ricketsii , transmitted by wood, canine and other ticks, mainly found in the USA
  • relapsing fever - the disease is caused by a bacteriumBorrelia recurrentis , which is transmitted by ticks and clothing lice
  • Colorado tick fever - is a disease that occurs mainly in the United States, caused byColitvirusand transmitted by the wood tick
See the gallery of 6 photosThis will be useful to you

There are two peaks of annual tick activity: May-June and September-October . During the day, the peak of morning activity is from the first dew until noon, and in the evening from 16 until dusk.

MYTH: Ticks are found only in forests

NOT ONLY. Although ticks like moist forests, especially mixed and deciduous forests,is practically everywhere , also in parks and on city lawns.

They used to be found mainly in the lowlands, now they can be found even in areas located 1500 m above sea level. They like transitional areas the most - between different types of vegetation, e.g. the edge of a forest and meadows, clearings or edges of paths.A lot of them in ferns, black elderberry and hazel.

They don't like the sun, they like warmth, but not hot (above 25 ° C) and humidity.

MYTH: Ticks are active only in summer

NO. Climate warming, especially mild winters, meant thatthe tick season begins in March and lasts until November,with a short break for the hot summer months.

There are two peaks of annual activity: May-June and September-October. During the day, the peak of morning activity is from the first dew until noon, and in the evening from 4:00 to dusk.When the temperature drops below 4 ° C, they become lethargic : they hide in the litter andunfavorable sleeping conditions sleep.

MYTH: Ticks lurk in trees

NO. Ticks climb 120-150 cm maximum (the height of the spine of a potential host). They actively hunt (especially larvae) orwait on a leaf, grass blades and catchwhen a target vertebrate passes by. In a fraction of a second, he can catch his claws on the skin, hair, clothes.

They have a reliable "radar" on their front legs (an organ that senses smells, pheromones, heat, carbon dioxide concentration), so they can sense the victim from a distance.Ticks recognize 40-50 odors , including ammonia and butyric acid in sweat and carbon dioxide in the air exhaled by a potential victim. They react to temperature changes (when the victim casts a shadow) and vibrations.

MYTH: When a tick finds a victim, it immediately sticks in

NOT NECESSARY. The tick first looks for a convenient place.It prefers to feed under the knees, under the bust, in the crook of the elbow, between the buttocks, behind the ear, in the groin- where the skin is thin, where it is quiet and warm.

Therefore, after a walk in the forest, you need to immediately check the whole body very carefully, it is worth taking a shower (but the stream of water will not remove the tick!), And also check and shake out (of course outside the home!) Clothes in which the tick could hide .Inspecting the body and clothing is the most important thing,because the claws hold tightly to the fabric or hair with their claws.

MYTH: Dark clothes will prevent tick bites

The color of the clothes does not matter to the ticksbecause they are blind. They identify the victim with their sense of smell. Ticks are especially drawn to us by the smell of our sweat.

MYTH: The tick is easy to spot on the skin

NO. You would have to have eagle eyesight.The larval stage tick is 0.5 mm in diameter and is light brown, almost the shade of the skin , in the nymph stage it is the size of a grain of sand (1.5 mm), so you can see it well, but only under a magnifying glass.

In additionthe bite is completely painless , because the tick while biting along with saliva introduces a substance with anesthetic properties. It sucks the blood, taking turns with injecting saliva, which prevents the blood from clotting and may contain pathogenic bacteria and viruses.

The larva drinks blood for about 3 days, the nymph 5 days, and the adult female even 11 days. Only when it becomes saturated, it falls off.

MYTH: The tick twists with its fingers

NO.You need a good pair of tweezers or a special device(available at a pharmacy). For safety, it is worth wearing disposable gloves. You have to grab it as close to the skin as possibleand pull out with a firm, slightly arched movement (attention, turning to the right or left has no justification).

Read:How to remove a tick step by step

MYTH: The tick will come out easily after applying grease

NO. Before removing , do not smear the area around the tick with(not even with a disinfectant, let alone fat), because then the parasite suffocates and vomits, increasing the risk of infection.The rank should only be disinfected and checked if the tick is completely gone.

MYTH: There is no risk of infection within 24 hours after the tick bite

NO.There is no guarantee that removing a tick soon after a tick bite avoids contamination. Besides,you never know for sure how long a tick has been feeding on . If a tick has TBE viruses in the salivary glands, it transmits them immediately after breaking the skin.

Lyme bacteria usually live in the intestines, but if the tick at a given stage has already been feeding and just wants to finish the meal - they will also be in the salivary glands.

MYTH: You can get vaccinated against Lyme disease

NO. There is no such vaccine yet (it was, but has been withdrawn), and what is worse, evensuffering from Lyme disease does not give immunity for life . There is, however, a vaccine against TBE - immunity is provided by two doses given within 3 months, then a booster dose is needed: the first one after 5-12 months after the second dose, the next one after 3 years, and the next ones every 3-5 years.

The series should be started in winter or early spring(the first two doses already give immunity for the entire season). If we start vaccination in spring, you can get vaccinated according to the accelerated schedule - the second dose 14 days after the first dose and then according to the basic schedule.

MYTH: You can catch Lyme disease from a dog / cat or another person

Lyme disease can only be caught as a result of the bite of an infected tick.There is no other way of infection.

MYTH: Redness is always a sign of Lyme infection

NO. In most cases, erythema does not appear at all (or is overlooked) and Lyme disease develops.The characteristic redness, warm and sometimes painful, that appears at the site of the bite and widens, is an indisputable sign of infection . Treatment must be started immediately.

Read:Erythema after a tick bite. How to recognize and treat dangerous migratory erythema?

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