Ticks can transmit TBE and Lyme disease. Baden-Württemberg is a high-risk area. What types of ticks are dangerous that live in Germany? What should you do if a tick bites you? And when do you have to go to the doctor?
To date, more than 900 species of ticks are known worldwide. More and more of them are spreading in their areas of origin. Typical habitats for ticks are sparse forests and forest edges as well as areas with tall grass or shrubs. The risk of infection is particularly high in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, southern Hesse and southeast Thuringia.
We present the most common types of ticks in Germany:
The most common type of tick in Europe and Germany is the common wood tick. Of all ticks, it most frequently infects humans and transmits the dangerous Borrelia and TBE viruses.
Like the common wood tick, the riparian tick can transmit tick-borne encephalitis. Unlike its relatives, which were established years ago, they actively search for hosts that can sting them at temperatures up to about four degrees. The Uld tick is primarily of eastern and southwestern Germany.
The hedgehog tick mainly stays in the burrow of its host animal, such as hedgehogs and foxes, where it waits for its prey.
The sheep tick – also known as the spring forest tick – is relatively rare in Germany. But it also spread in this country – especially in southern Germany.
Pigeon ticks are found in Central European countries and are mainly found on buildings. Bites of this type of tick on humans provoke allergic reactions;
Tropical ticks of the genus Hyalomma, which are native to Africa, also appear frequently in Germany. Migratory birds enter them in Germany. With increasingly dry and warm summers, this tick can become a regular visitor in this country.
Ticks are usually not easy to spot: small spiders have thin skin, which is why they often hide in hard-to-reach places such as the back of the knee, groin or behind the ears.
A tick bites its mouth parts – that’s why in professional circles one talks about a tick bite, and not a bite.
According to the Robert Koch Institute, the number of tick risk areas in Germany has increased to 175. The main affected areas are Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, southern Hessen and Thuringia. Ticks lurk in the forests, wetlands, and meadows of their walking hosts in the plant world.
A tick bite is a problem if the spider is a carrier of TBE viruses or Lyme disease bacteria.
Tick-borne encephalitis (FSME) is a virus-related disease transmitted by ticks. Symptoms of mild tuberculosis are similar to those of the flu such as fever, headache, and nausea.
In Germany, between 400 and 500 people become infected each year. Inflammation in the area of the brain occurs in only about a third of those affected.
People who live in high-risk areas or who reside there frequently should be vaccinated.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi that lives in the intestines of ticks.
Anyone who gets Lyme disease – tens of thousands of people in Germany each year – must tolerate a course of antibiotics lasting several weeks.
Removing the tick early makes infection less likely.
Lyme disease can lead to ring-shaped redness at the injection site or flu-like symptoms. It is usually treated with antibiotics.
In Germany, about 3 out of every 10,000 people develop Lyme disease each year.
Consequences of TBE and Lyme disease
Both illnesses can initially be noticed only by symptoms of a flu-like infection. In some cases, there are no symptoms at all, which makes detecting the infection more difficult.
Serious consequences are possible: TBE can lead to encephalitis or meningitis, and Lyme disease, for example, to arthritis.