11.05.2012 change 11.05.2012

Doctors about the fight against ticks

PAP © 2012 / Paweł Kula PAP © 2012 / Paweł Kula

We should protect ourselves and our pets from disease-spreading ticks, even when going for a walk in a local park, the experts argue. Ticks hunt us, said Dr. Aleksandra Gliniewicz of the National Institute of Hygiene. These arachnids react to carbon dioxide, lactic acid, butyric acid, ammonia, warmth, shade, and vibration. They like deciduous forests. Its painless bite may be unnoticed. Therefore, in order to avoid them, it is better to avoid sitting on the grass and carefully examine clothes.

A tick will look for soft areas, under knees or behind ears. When returning from the area where ticks are present, we should carefully examine the skin. Within first 12 hours we are not at risk of infection, the later after that time, the greater the risk, explained Prof. Stanisława Tylewska-Wierzbanowska from the National Institute of Hygiene. 20 tick species living in Poland carry tick-borne encephalitis, Lyme disease, bartonellosis, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and first two cases of rickettsiosis were recorded in 2011. Not all ticks spread diseases, but you never know if the tick that bit you is infected.

For now, we can get vaccinated only against tick-borne encephalitis, which can be carried by ticks in all forms of development: adults, nymphs and almost invisible larvae. Inoculation in the winter or early spring will guarantee protection from the beginning of tick activity (April to October), said Prof. Włodzimierz Gut from the Department of Virology, National Institute of Public Health.

The symptoms of encephalitis occur within two weeks and resemble the flu. In 70-80 percent cases, it is inhibited in this first phase. In the rest of the infected, the virus reaches the central nervous system where it can cause inflammation of the meninges or brain.

Another dangerous disease is Lyme disease, with a characteristic symptom of gradually expanding redness - but this symptom does not always occur. Fortunately, Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics. The tick lymphadenopathy, called TIBOLA, can produce symptoms similar to cancer (enlarged lymph nodes).

Experts estimate that 10-15 percent ticks in Poland can be infected by pathogenic microbes, especially in the provinces Podlasie and Warmia-Mazury, and in some parts of Mazovia, Opole and Lower Silesia provinces.

In Warsaw, strollers are exposed to ticks in the woods: Bielanski, Kabacki, Młociny, Bemowo, in the Zoo and the Kampinos National Park. However, ticks have also been found in the Łazienki Park.

"An effective tactic is to deter them with chemicals, repellents" - said Dr. Aleksandra Gliniewicz of the National Institute of Hygiene. Plant substances could make a safer alternative to synthetics, but in high concentrations they are irritating to the skin. Eugenol obtained from clove is a mutagen, and citronellol badly affects the reproductive and nervous systems. Preparations containing synthetic DEET are considered most effective.

Good protection against ticks are long sleeves, pants, socks, shoes covering the foot. Some companies produce clothing impregnated with repellent substances, especially permethrin - said Dr. Gliniewicz. Permethrin spray is available on the market; it gives ordinary clothes deterrent properties.

If a tick attaches itself, it is better not to use fat spread or burn. Instead, grab it with plastic tweezers, pry up and remove, or drain the special tool - according to Prof. Stanisława Tylewska-Wierzbanowska.

Dogs and cats are also at risk of tick borne diseases, particularly babesiosis caused by these parasites - said veterinarian Katarzyna Trojanowska. Symptoms of this disease include high fever, pale, yellowish mucosa, and darkening of the urine. If the animal does not receive treatment quickly, it may not survive. A solution could be to use repellent drops applied to the skin (once every 4 weeks) or a collar with repellents. But keep in mind that in the case of cats permethrin can be harmful. In addition, ticks have already developed resistance to certain substances, such as fipronil.

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