NEWS | Spending Time Outdoors This Summer? Be Tick Aware

Camping with Style Camping Blog | Activities • Glamping • Travel • Adventure

We all love getting outside when the sun is shining, and ticks are no different. During warmer months ticks are at their most active, meaning they are more likely to spread disease.1

You don’t have to go on a tropical holiday to get bitten by an infected tick. This unwanted travel companion can be encountered in many European countries, 2 so, if you’re planning a camping trip in Europe, read on to find out if you might be at risk of a tick bite and how to avoid returning home with an unwanted souvenir from your trip!

How to be tick aware

No matter how small, ticks could be more than a mild nuisance

You are probably aware that ticks can transmit Lyme disease. However, you may not be aware in many European countries they can also carry a nasty virus that causes tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). Encephalitis means inflammation of the brain and TBE can cause fevers, headaches and nausea, and in some cases convulsions and paralysis.[1] Unlike Lyme disease which can be treated with antibiotics, there is no specific treatment for TBE.3

“Tick-borne encephalitis is a relatively unknown disease that can have truly devastating consequences,” says Ava Easton, Chief Executive of The Encephalitis Society. “It is vital that anyone planning to spend time outdoors in these endemic European countries speak to their healthcare professional and take measures to help protect themselves from this disease.”

How do I know if I’ll be at risk of picking up an infectious tick on my next trip?

Most people who are infected by TBE virus catch the disease in an endemic area during outdoor leisure pursuits, such as camping during spring through to early autumn.[2] It’s therefore important to know if the area you are travelling to is affected by ticks and TBE.

Visit www.tickalert.org for more information on areas that are affected.

How to be tick aware

What can I do if I’m visiting an affected area?

It’s not possible to tell if a tick is infected just by looking at it, but there are preventative measures that you can take.

There is a misconception that removing a tick quickly means that it will not pass on a bacterial disease or virus. Viruses such as TBE are transmitted through the tick’s saliva, meaning that a virus can be passed on as soon as the bite occurs.[3] Tick bites can even go unnoticed, especially if you’re busy enjoying your holiday. Not only are ticks very small, but their saliva also contains a natural anaesthetic, meaning that you may not feel the bite.4

Speak to your healthcare professional about how you can help protect yourself against tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), at least four weeks ahead of your holiday.2 When packing for your holiday in Europe, consider including some long-sleeved tops and long trousers to keep covered up and of course, plenty of insect repellent.[4] There are vaccines available that can help to protect against TBE.3 If you find yourself regularly visiting an endemic area, the full course of vaccination is needed.

Something worth thinking about when planning your next camping trip – don’t let these little bugs ruin any of your future holidays!

For more information, visit www.tickalert.org

References

[1] ECDC. Key messages about tick-borne encephalitis and tick-borne diseases. Available at https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/tick-borne-encephalitis/facts/key-messages [Last accessed February 2018]

[2] NaTHNac. Tick-borne encephalitis. Available at https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/disease/173/tick-borne-encephalitis [last accessed February 2018]

[3] NHS choices. Tick-borne encephalitis. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tick-borne-encephalitis/ [last accessed February 2018]

[4] NHS choices. Tick-borne encephalitis: prevention. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/tick-borne-encephalitis/prevention/ [last accessed February 2018]