Tick bites

Ticks can transmit two different diseases. Lyme disease (also known as Lyme borreliosis) is caused by borrelia bacteria, while tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is caused by TBE viruses. Ticks should therefore be removed as quickly as possible and the bite carefully monitore

Overview

Ticks can transmit two different diseases. Lyme disease (also known as Lyme borreliosis) is caused by borrelia bacteria, while tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is caused by TBE viruses. Ticks should therefore be removed as quickly as possible and the bite carefully monitored.

Symptoms

A “harmless” tick bite causes a small local infection similar to any insect bite. The red bite mark seldom gets bigger than 1cm and soon disappears on its own. However, if the bite has transmitted borrelia or TBE, the following symptoms can appear:

Main symptoms

  • After a few days, the tick bite turns into an expanding red spot that sometimes clears in the centre
  • Flu-like symptoms

Complications

  • Very infrequently, borreliosis progresses and can cause painful joints, muscles or nerves, memory disorders and fatigue that can last for many months
  • TBE can cause meningitis

Causes and treatment

Ticks infected with borrelia bacteria occur practically everywhere. Ticks bearing TBE, however, are only found in certain regions of Switzerland and Europe (see “Further information”).

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Careful examination of the tick bite
  • Blood test
  • Examination of cerebrospinal fluid
Possible therapies
  • Antibiotics for borreliosis
  • Antipyretic (fever-reducing) medication for TBE

What can I do myself?

  • Examine your body (including your head) very carefully for ticks after visiting tick-infested areas
  • Remove the ticks with tweezers, then disinfect the bites
  • Wear clothing that provides good skin cover
  • Use tick repellent
  • Avoid underbrush and meadows covered in tall grass when hiking or running

Vaccination

  • The TBE vaccination is recommended for: orienteers, runners, forestry workers, children
  • There is currently no vaccination against borreliosis

When to see a doctor?

  • The tick bite turns into a round and expanding red spot that remains for more than three days
  • Flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, painful limbs/headache) appear after a tick bite

Further information

Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH)
www.bag.admin.ch

Swiss League for Patients with Tick-Borne Diseases (Liga für Zeckenkranke Schweiz)
www.zeckenliga.ch

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Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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