Ticks and what to do

Ticks in Shanghai and Zhejiang Province

Recently there have been a lot of articles in the Chinese news regarding ticks. There seems to be a fast growing population of ticks spreading at alarming rates. This could, according to foreign specialists, be due to the growing amount of dogs and cats of which many roam free and thus spread the threat to urban areas as well as compounds inside the city limits. Ticks are mostly harmless but can lead to serious illness and even death. Several deaths have already been reported in the surrounding areas of Shanghai according to the Chinese news.

Shanghai, tick, borrelia

What is a tick?

A tick is a small blood sucking mite. There are two kinds of ticks. To distinguish between the ticks by counting their legs. One tick looks like a beetle and has six legs, while the other has eight and is more similar to a very small spider. A tick survives by sucking blood from larger animals such as deer and foxes, but it can also settle on the people.

A tick usually sits at the top of the tall grass or similar and waits for a potential host to pass. If you will get a tick on you, it will typically wander into a hot, humid and dark place on your body (groin or armpits), but it can settle everywhere.

When a tick has found an appropriate place on your body, it "digs in" and begins to suck blood. Under normal circumstances you won't feel a thing. You typically discover the tick by accident because it will grow significantly in size while sucking blood. After some days, when the tick is "full" it falls of by itself.

In most cases, it is not dangerous. The chance of getting ill is approximately 2 percent of all tick bites (in Europe).

Some ticks can, however, be carriers of a small bacterium, Borrelia Burgdorferi, which is introduced into the human body via the ticks bite, and you thus run the risk of developing Lyme disease, also known as Borrelia. Some ticks can also be carriers of a virus that can cause the disease TBE (Tickborne Encephalitis).

Why is it important to remove the tick?

When you have a tick attached to your body, it will often not hurt. But it is important to remove it because part of them as mentioned are carriers of a bacterium that can cause Lyme disease also called Lymes disease or Borrelia. The disease can at worst cause brain inflammation and paralysis, as happened to the politician Mimi Stilling Jakobsen (Denmark). If you remove the tick within 24 hours, the risk that of getting Lyme disease is minimal.

If the tick is the bearer of the virus, which gives TBE, it won't help removing as it has already has infected you. But since it often takes awhile before a tick finds a good place to soak up blood, it is a good idea to check yourself and your children thoroughly, after someone has been in the forest. It is always a good idea to use long pants and boots, ticks can usually be brushed of when one comes home. If you are going to an area where TBE is widespread, you can be vaccinated against the disease. Because small children only very rarely receive TBE and there is a greater risk for adverse reactions to the vaccine, this is normally only given to children over seven years.

How to remove the tick?

If a tick has taken hold, its head is below the surface of your skin. From here it sucks and it's body will grow as it's filled with blood. When you remove it, you need to remove the whole tick. The most important thing is that you should not squeezethe ticks body. If you squeeze the body the tick may empty its stomach into your blood stream and this is where the borrelia-bacterium exists.

At the chemist can also buy a special tick forceps, which is recommended as the safest way to remove ticks.

The chemist may also a tick remover that uses freezing techniques and kills it quickly and safely.

You can also take narrow tweezers and to try to grab the tick as far down the head as possible without smashing it. Twist the tickaround a few times, and drag slowly and steadily until it releases its grip. No sudden pulls , and avoid pinching the ticks body.

Don't try out all the old tricks with swiveling the tick around, burn it with a cigarette or lubricant like Vaseline, for the release. You only risk only that the tick empties his stomach content and thereby transmits borrelia.

What should I do if the head remains?

If the head, or rather the jaws, will remain in your skin, you must not do anything. Your body is gonna reject it out within a few days, and that is usually not causing any complications. Of course, there is always a risk of infection in the skin, but in this case it has nothing to do with Lyme disease. If you however suffer from pronounced blushing, it must be assessed by a doctor.

Should we have penicillin, if I have been bitten by a tick?

If you have been bitten by a tick and you have subsequently removed it, the risk of developing Lyme disease is so small that there is no reason to treat with antibiotics as a preventive treatment.

However, it is important to watch for symptoms of Lyme disease, particularly a red stain around the place where tick was located, which gradually becomes larger, and eventually there will be a pale area in the middle (Erythema Migrans).

This will typically appear from one to four weeks after you were bitten. In rare cases, one can, however, have Lyme disease, without getting the red marks.

Note that it is normal that there will be a local reaction in the bite area that will turn red. As long as this red area can be covered by a 1 yuan coin, it is only a local reaction. If the area itself is growing larger, it must be assessed by a doctor.

At the slightest uncertainty, the bite should be assessed by a doctor!

What does an infection look like?

Borrelia infection, Shanghai

Borrelia infection, Shanghai

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