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This year 3.6% of ticks carrying infectious diseases

This year twice as many ticks can be found in forests in comparison with last year, and 3.6% of the ticks removed in the Infectology center were infected with either Lyme's disease or tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). If not treated in a timely manner, these diseases can cause long-term health problems.

After the Midsummer, Latvia's Infectology center is very busy as the number of visitors with removable ticks has more than doubled. Usually about 20 people turn to the center each day, but after the long holiday about 50 people are having ticks removed each day.

This year 3.6% of the ticks removed in the Infectology center have carried either Lyme's disease or viral encephalitis. The proportion of infectious ticks can range from 2.6 to a whopping 30%.

"This year there are more ticks than last year, about twice as much. We can tell from the monitoring data. Ticks are to be found throughout the territory of Latvia. If there are bushes, scrubs, tall grass, and uncut meadows, it's safe to say there are ticks too," said epidemiologist Antra Bormane.

Viral encephalitis can be diagnosed in a lab, because the symptoms in the beginning aren't different from influenza. That's why people go to the doctor if they've found a tick on their body.

"The symptoms of TBE aren't that specific. The beginning stages of the disease can be confused with other infections, such as influenza. [The symptoms are] headache, exhaustion, and a fever," said Irina Ribakova of the Infectology center.

Lyme's disease can be detected easily, though. If the area around the tick bite swells in a diameter of more than 5 centimeters, you have to go to the doctor.

The most effective measure against TBE is vaccination, but there's no vaccine against Lyme's disease. 

Fresh goat milk should also be avoided, as a number of people got infected with encephalitis due to the goats having ticks that bear the disease. 

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