Be careful, ticks are back, here are five things to know to protect yourself from them – Evening edition Ouest-France

It’s high season! Vets say it, ticks are back. And these beasts, thirsty for blood, proliferate at the gates of summer. Distrust, because this discreet mite can carry dangerous diseases for pets. But also for humans. Here are five things to know to protect yourself.

With the hot weather currently hitting France, the temptation is great to enjoy the outdoors and walk in the forest. Watch out for ticks though! These little beasts are back. Watch out for their bites!

1. Where are ticks found?

This little mite always takes advantage of spring to reappear. And like most wild animals, the tick has also taken advantage of our confinement to proliferate in nature and wild grass.

“Its habitat is mainly in deciduous and mixed forests with dense undergrowth, as well as in grassy areas, in clearings and forest paths”, Yannick Simonin, an infectious disease specialist specializing in emerging diseases, recently reminded us. And as in many places, confinement requires, the vegetation has not been maintained, the ticks are ready for the feast.

Be careful in the tall grass of the trails and in the undergrowth. (Photo: Jérôme Fouquet / Ouest-France)

2. What is its modus operandi?

Hung in tall grass about 1 meter to 1.50 meters tall, the tick patiently watches for the passage of a host to cling to it and bite it. These are usually small rodents, birds or larger wild animals such as deer, cows, sheep. She can also cling to pets like our dogs and cats.

Adult female ticks produce larvae from the hatching of their eggs. The larvae settle on top of the plants while waiting for an animal to pass by to cling to them. They attach themselves to its skin, suck the blood of the host animal, and fall back to the ground to metamorphose into nymphs. These nymphs go back to the adult stage and go through the same cycle again. Ticks feed exclusively on the blood of their host.

The parasite, more active from the month of May, does not only transmit Lyme disease. It is a vector of many potentially dangerous viruses for humans. (Photo: iStockphoto)

3. What are the risks for cats and dogs?

“If a dog or cat is bitten, it risks anemia, being very weak, very dejected, possibly developing fever and joint pain.says Julie Koller-Martin, veterinarian in the Rennes region (Ille-et-Vilaine). But in the worst case, he can also contract Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis or piroplasmosis, diseases that can prove fatal for them. This is why it is recommended to treat dogs and cats preventively with antiparasitics to avoid any risk.continues the veterinarian.

A female Ixodes ricinus in three stages: unengorged, embedded in the skin being engorged, and fully engorged and detached from its host. (Photo: DR)

4. How to remove them?

After a walk, check that your dog does not have one or more ticks buried in his coat. To locate them, by stroking your animal, you will feel a small smooth and mobile ball in the hairs. Check in particular certain more humid and hidden areas, particularly appreciated by ticks, underline the veterinarians: the inside of the ears, between the toes, the groin and the perianal area, the lips, the eyelids, etc. Sometimes ticks even come between the neck and the collar.

You can remove them with tweezers or a special hook that can be found on the market, in pharmacies, in particular. But be sure to remove it entirely.

Stun the tick with 70° alcohol before extracting it. And above all, be careful not to decapitate it. The head of a tick, which would remain in the body of your animal, can continue to do damage even without its body… If in doubt, do not hesitate to consult a veterinarian.

5. What are the risks for humans?

For humans, the tick is also potentially dangerous. It can, for example, transmit Lyme disease, this infection which can lead, if left untreated, to paralysis and dementia.

“The tick can also trigger a form of hemorrhagic fever or encephalitis in humans.underlines Yannick Simonin, infectiologist. Tick-borne encephalitis causes about 10,000 cases per year. And this virus is present in Northern Europe, including a few cases in France. »

Now, there are also some specimens of giant ticks in Northern Europe. tick expansion hyalomma marginatum is bad news. She is “potential carrier” of certain diseases such as Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, reports the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA). Outbreaks of this hemorrhagic fever “have a fatality rate of up to 40%”according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Even when a tick infected with Borrelia bacteria has finished its blood meal, it is not certain that it transmitted the disease. But better beware of this mite. (Illustrative photo: PxHere

So, it is not a question of giving in to panic in the midst of the coronavirus period, but we must obviously be aware of the potential danger linked to ticks. Simple preventive measures can be implemented to avoid bites and the possible transmission of infections. Go out covered in loose clothing, avoid grazing tall grass and do a little inspection when you return from your walk.

You should also know that researchers continue to advance knowledge on ticks, on their ecosystems, on the mechanisms of transmission of infectious agents. Ticks are indeed among the animals monitored as potential vectors of emerging diseases.

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