If it’s summer, it’s tick season. I’ve already found three ticks on Charlie this week.
In Germany, when it comes to tick-borne diseases, you mostly need to worry about Frühsommer-Meningoenzephalitis (FSME) known in English as tick-borne meningoencephalitis (for folks who can read German, the Frühsommer-Meningoenzephalitis Wikipedia article is much more informative) and Borreliose (Lyme disease).
There is a vaccination against FSME available in Europe. You should check with your family doctor about whether it is recommended for you. It cannot be taken by pregnant women and some doctors do not recommend it for children under 6, although our pediatrician recommends it for children over 2.
FSME risk areas in Germany
In the above map, red denotes a risk area, where people are encouraged to get the FSME-Impfung, and yellow, where isolated cases of FSME have been reported to the Robert Koch Institute. Want a closer look or don’t live in Germany? Here is an interactive map of the spread of FSME in Europe. The page is in German, but you can zoom in on your location to see if it’s affected.
How to protect yourself:
- Avoid high grass and underbrush
- Wear light-colored clothing, it’s easier to identify a tick if one is on you
- Limit skin exposure through long sleeves and long pants
- Wear long pant legs tucked into socks
- Stay near the center of hiking trails to avoid brushing against low vegetation as much as possible
- Use tick repellent: Stiftung Warentest recommends Anti Brumm Naturel as satisfactory, followed by Autan Family Care Zeckenschutz and Quartet Anti Zecke Hautspray.
- Check yourself and your children daily and remove ticks promptly. Ticks should be removed within the first 12 hours. Ticks prefer warm, moist areas, so be sure to carefully check armpits and genital areas along with the head. To remove ticks from humans, Zeckenkarte, or tick cards, are recommended. Don’t try to burn or drown the tick in alcohol or oil while it is attached, this can cause it to regurgitate into the wound, raising the risk of infection.
How to protect your pets:
- Talk to your veterinarian
- Check your pet’s coat daily for ticks and remove them promptly. Ticks should be removed within the first 12 hours. To remove ticks from animals, I highly recommend the O’Tom Tick Twister (you can buy the O’Tom Zeckenhaken online at Zooplus.de or at your local pet shop, and here’s a video demonstrating how to remove a tick with it). After you remove the tick, you should make sure it is dead and not just release it back in to the wild. You can burn it, drown it in oil or alcohol, or squish it in a paper towel.
- Use tick-prevention medication like Exspot or Frontline.
For more info:
- Zecken.de – In German
- NASD: Protect Yourself from Ticks and Lyme Disease – from the CDC website in the US
- DogsandTicks.com – Info for folks in the US
Do you have any advice for dealing with ticks?