Tick bites are not solely responsible for Lyme disease. Verno-summer meningoencephalitis is caused by a virus transmitted by the bite of this insect. In Switzerland, Belgium and Germany, cases continue to increase.
Official health organizations keep repeating it, you have to be careful about ticks. These insects, found in the wild mainly in autumn and spring, can be found on human and animal skin. If the majority of people were stung in the forest, one in three said they were bitten in their garden.
Ticks are vectors of pathologies, such as Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that affects each year 27,000 French, according to the figures of the Ministry of Solidarity and Health. Ixodida (another name for this insect) is also responsible for vernal-summer meningoencephalitis, more commonly known as tick-borne meningoencephalitis.
What is tick-borne meningoencephalitis?
Tick-borne meningoencephalitis develops after infection with FSME virus. Its incubation period, during which the symptoms do not yet appear, lasts between seven and fourteen days, and can even reach 30 days. The patient does not feel any signs and is not alerted.
Then, flu-like symptoms manifest as headaches, fatigue, joint pain and possibly fever.
More serious, for 5 to 10% of subjects *, neurological disorders occur and often require hospitalization. These symptoms can last for months. Nearly 40% of patients have significant sequelae and between 0.5% and 2% of cases, the death follows.
The most affected countries in Europe are Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Austria. In France, Alsace is not spared. If no regional study lists French cases, neighboring countries like Germany, the health services count 200 to 500 reported cases.
A vaccine available in France
In France, two vaccines for tick-borne encephalitis (TICOVAC® and ENCEPUR®) are available. Only travelers at risk (having stayed in an epidemic zone during the tick season between February and November) or persons exposed because of their professional activity are concerned by vaccination.
Precautions to take
To avoid contracting a disease transmitted by ticks, precautions should be taken. When traveling in natural areas, it is necessary to wear covering clothes and walk in the maintained paths. Once inside, inspect the body and, if there is a tick, it is imperative to remove it with a tickle or a thin forceps before disinfecting the area.
Last tip: do not use ether, as this may increase the risk of infection. If a red halo begins to appear, consult a doctor immediately.
* Figures froma study carried out in Switzerland in november 2011.
Lyme disease: the new indispensable reflex in case of tick bite
Too much wrong information about Lyme disease, the Academy of Medicine untangles the truth from the false