Tick Bites


A tick bite is usually harmless. A local allergic skin reaction with itching may develop within hours to two days after the bite. Rarely, a dangerous anaphylaxis is possible. The transmission of infectious diseases during the tick bite is problematic. Two diseases are of particular importance: 1. Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by bacteria of the genus and transmitted to humans by a tick bite. The disease may initially manifest itself locally as a skin rash that extends in a ring around the site of the bite and persists for several weeks. In addition to the skin, the nervous system, the musculoskeletal system and other organs can also be affected within weeks to years. Antibiotics are used for treatment. © Lucille Solomon, 2012 http://www.lucille-solomon.com 2. Early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE) is a rare tick-borne viral infectious disease. The course of the disease is biphasic and begins with a flu-like illness. For most patients, this is the end of the infection. In 20-30%, the second phase sets in, which is characterized by the attack of the central nervous system with the development of meningitis and encephalitis. The course is more severe in adults than in children. An antiviral therapy against TBE viruses does not yet exist, which is why the infection can only be treated symptomatically. Vaccination with inactivated viruses is available for prevention. In addition to these two known pathogens, ticks in Central Europe transmit other, rarer diseases that affect humans, wild and domestic animals:

  • Human granulocytic anaplasmosis.
  • Q fever
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Tularaemia (rabbit plague)
  • Rickettsiosis
  • Bartonellosis, for example, the cat scratch disease.
  • Babesiosis


There are over 900 different species of ticks worldwide, all of which are ectoparasites and feed on the blood of the host. The most important species in Central Europe is the shield tick , the common wood tick. The larvae hatched from eggs develop into nymphs and finally into adult ticks. Each of these developmental stages requires a blood meal. Ticks bite by inserting a type of barbed suction tube into the skin, which remains there for numerous hours. They do not bite – that is why it is correctly called a tick bite and not a tick bite. The parasites live at a height of 10-50 cm near the ground, where it is sufficiently moist and they have access to their hosts, for example, in the grass, foliage and undergrowth. They are stripped from low-growing plants as they pass by and thus get onto the human body. However, they do not fall from trees, as is sometimes assumed. In addition to humans, hosts include deer, pets and livestock, rodents, birds, and reptiles. The risk of a tick bite is highest in spring and fall. Ticks survive up to a maximum altitude of 1500 meters above sea level. Up to half of the ticks common in many countries carry the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. Ticks infected with TBE, on the other hand, are found only in certain high-risk areas.

Removal of ticks

  • The tick should be removed as soon as possible because the risk of transmission of Borrelia increases with time and after 24 hours.
  • Beforehand, do not use home remedies such as cologne, oil or glue.
  • Removal of the tick with ordinary pointed tweezers, professional tick tweezers or at most with another tool such as a tick card. Grasp the tick well just above the skin, pull it out firmly and completely. Do not crush the parasite.
  • Remove mouthparts remaining in the skin if possible. If this is not easily possible, it may also remain in the skin and will be rejected by the body over time.
  • Disinfection of the site with a disinfectant.
  • The tool, if reused, must then be well cleaned and sterilized.
  • Note the date of the sting and observe the site in the coming weeks. Watch for febrile illnesses during this period.


The best prevention of infectious diseases is to avoid tick bites. Ticks are located in the undergrowth and low-growing plants.When hiking or playing sports, closed shoes and long, smooth and light-colored pants should be worn. Ticks are easier to detect on light-colored materials. Socks should be put over the pants. Avoid the undergrowth and roadsides. After spending time in a risk area, the body should be checked for ticks and the ticks should be removed as soon as possible. Ticks are found mainly in the armpit area, on the groin and the back of the knee, and in children also on the face, neck and scalp. Repellents, for example with the active ingredient diethyltoluamide (DEET), are used for chemical prevention. The American Society for Infectious Diseases (http://www.idsociety.org) recommends taking 200 mg doxycycline as a single dose for secondary prophylaxis after a tick bite if 4 criteria are met. In many countries, no such antibiotic prophylaxis is given because the benefit is not scientifically proven. A vaccination against Lyme disease is not yet commercially available. In the USA, a vaccination was launched but withdrawn from the market. In contrast, TBE vaccination (Encepur, TBE-Immun) is available in many countries see under TBE Vaccination.