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.
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:
- After a few days, the tick bite turns into an expanding red spot that sometimes clears in the centre
- Flu-like symptoms
- 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
- Careful examination of the tick bite
- Blood test
- Examination of cerebrospinal fluid
- 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
- The TBE vaccination is recommended for: orienteers, runners, forestry workers, children
- There is currently no vaccination against borreliosis