Ticks in the Czech Republic

Beware of summertime critters!

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 12.05.2004 19:50:00 (updated on 12.05.2004) Reading time: 2 minutes

Written by IWAP Members
for Bridge Magazine, IWAP

Summer has finally arrived! It´s time to enjoy outdoor activities, walks in the park, camping in the woods, and traveling into the countryside. We all know about the importance of protecting our skin from the effects of the sun, but are we all aware of the importance of protecting ourselves from insect and tick bites?

Ticks can be a common nuisance in parks, forests, and even some suburban gardens during May to September in the Czech Republic. Distribution across Central Europe is mainly in low, warm, forested areas, especially with heavy undergrowth, in parts of Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia, Germany, Austria, and countries of the former Soviet Union. The little pest cuts a wide path.

A tick is a small, block-sucking mite, which can attach itself to humans or other animals. The Ixodes tick can be infected with the viral infection known as tick-borne encephalitis. It is believed that around two to five percent of ticks in Central Europe are infected with the virus. The infection can range from no perceptible symptoms to flu-like symptoms, to severe headaches, fever and encephalitis. About one percent of those infected will eventually die from the disease.

Those most at risk are campers, hikers and ramblers in rural or forest areas in late spring and summer. Collectors of mushrooms and berries sometimes bring home an unexpected guest. Prevention involves application of insect repellents on any exposed skin as well as on socks and camping gear. Dress sensibly when camping or hiking. Ticks travel upwards, so cover ankles, legs and arms. Tuck trousers into socks! Check yourself regularly for ticks and remove them as soon as you notice them. Take care to remove the whole tick. (Every family should own medical tweezers.)

Fortunately, there is a vaccine available against tick-borne encephalitis and it is strongly recommended for those spending time in high-risk areas. Your doctor will be able to advise you on any risks associated with immunization and will provide you with further information. The vaccination is a series of three injections that can provide up to three years of protection against the disease.

Ticks can also carry Lyme disease, a potentially serious infection that affects the nervous system, joints, and skin. The disease usually causes fatigue, flu-like symptoms and, if detected early, can be treated with antibiotics. There is no vaccine in Europe for this disease, so prevention and early medical attention are important. Not all ticks are infected, but if you are bitten and have concerns, it is always best to consult your physician.

Try to avoid getting bitten! In spite of the wee beasties, summer is still a time of joy. Get out there and partake!

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