More recently, most Russians perceived tick-borne encephalitis as a curiosity. Ticks attack us in summer cottages and even in parks in the European part of the country.
At the same time, bloodsucking creatures attack people not only in nature, but also penetrate our homes. As a result, ticks, like the disease they carry, encephalitis, turned out to be a source of fear, and therefore rumors with myths.
Ticks are insects. The dangers of insect mites are often announced in the media. In fact, these creatures are similar to insects, but they do not belong to them. Ticks are arachnids. It is easy to verify this, since they have 8 paws, and not 6, like insects.
Any tick is dangerous. As soon as many see a tick on a blade of grass, in a pet's fur, they panic. If the arachnid turned out to be on the skin, then some almost immediately run to the hospital. In fact, the reality is not so terrible. The overwhelming majority of ticks living in our country are harmless. The real danger comes from ixodid ticks, which have a characteristic scutellum on their back. When these creatures are drunk with blood, they noticeably change their appearance. The female is capable of increasing in volume by 80-120 times during feeding. The males bite too, but they are no longer so insatiable. It is these ticks that carry the encephalitis virus. In total, about 3000 people fall ill with tick-borne encephalitis in Russia per year. As summer temperatures rise, the habitat of these creatures expands, so that the risk of infection gradually increases.
The encephalitis virus only lives in ticks. This statement seems obvious, because it is not for nothing that an infected tick is called encephalitis. In fact, this arachnid only carries infection, and domestic and wild animals are a kind of reservoir for it. When a tick bites an infected rodent, goat or bird, the virus enters the body of the arachnid. There, encephalitis begins to multiply successfully and accumulate in the area of the salivary glands and ovaries. If the tick bites a person, then the virus is already transmitted into the victim's blood and begins to actively multiply already there. And the infection itself is not terrible for the carrier, it can persist for years in the body of the creature. In general, tick-borne encephalitis can be infected in another way - the infection can be transmitted with raw goat's or cow's milk. To protect yourself, you just need to boil the unprocessed drink.
Ticks jump onto their victims from tree branches. When a tick appears on the child's shoulder or head, it seems obvious that he jumped on his victim from somewhere above, from a branch. In fact, ixodid ticks on plants do not rise above knee level. But these creatures cling to a person passing by. Ticks have an interesting feature - they have a negative geotactis, as a result of which they can only crawl upward on clothes. Bloodsuckers seek out the warmest and most vulnerable areas of exposed skin. At the same time, ticks are also quite picky, they can choose a place suitable for bites for several hours. The highest points of the end of their route as a result give rise to such a myth.
Ticks are more likely to attack people in white clothes. This myth is easy to understand when mite researchers collect them by thinning the grass with a stick attached to a white rag. There are quite a few creatures on it, which is clearly visible. Only ticks have such a primitive visual apparatus that they simply cannot distinguish colors. When a bloodsucker goes hunting, it is located on the lower branches or on the grass, spreading its front legs. The tick simply grabs at everything that moves by, not distinguishing between color, gender, type of living creature. Scientists, on the other hand, use a white rag for collection for a very understandable reason - the ticks are better visible on it. To protect yourself from them, you should not pay special attention to the color of the clothes, any will do. You just have to try to make the cuffs of the pants and sleeves fit snugly to the body. It is best to put on a headscarf on your head. When walking in the danger zone, it is best to stop for a break every 2-3 hours and inspect each other. And in general, after any return from the forests and fields, children, themselves and animals must be carefully checked so as not to miss the sucking ticks. Just do not forget that a real anti-encephalitis suit must be quite tight, which in hot weather will lead to overheating. This, in turn, will reduce the tactile sensitivity of our skin. As a result, a person simply does not pay attention to the fact that a small spider-like creature is crawling along him.
The tick must be pulled out by a specialist. People are afraid to pull out a tick, invariably calling for the help of a specialist. But is it worth rushing headlong into the hospital? A tick that has stuck into the body must be removed immediately. After all, the duration of its suction determines the amount of the virus that enters the bloodstream. The longer the tick will drink blood, the more difficult the disease will then be. But it is still worth showing the creature itself, preferably still alive, for specialists. This will check if the tick is carrying the virus. Immediate removal is even more important because one infected arachnid contains up to 10 billion virus particles. For encephalitis to develop, a millionth part of this amount is enough.
To remove the tick, you need to grease it with vegetable oil or petroleum jelly. This popular method is based on the assertion that the poor tick will have nothing to breathe, and it will crawl out of the wound on its own. Only now, neither oil nor any other means will force the bloodsucker to loosen his grip and pull his head out. There is a standard and proven method for removing a tick. It must be tied with a thread as close as possible to the proboscis, that is, to the human skin. Then the ends must be stretched and the tick must be pulled out with smooth swinging movements. If the head still comes off, it must be removed immediately, like a common splinter. A sterile fire-calcined needle is suitable for this. If you try to pull out the tick with your fingers, then this can only aggravate the situation. Its internal contents, together with the virus, can be literally pressed into the wound.
To protect against ticks, repellents should be used. Now you can get special protective substances, smeared with which, you can supposedly protect yourself from ticks. Although such funds exist, they cannot guarantee complete protection due to their low efficiency. Ticks have their own hunting strategy. They wait for their victims in the grass and bushes along the paths, being guided by the smell. As soon as the object passes by, the tick grabs the body or clothing, and then looks for the best place to bite. So the result of the hunt is practically not affected by whether the person passing by is smeared with a repellent or not. These protective substances have low effectiveness, since their duration of action is rather limited. Repellents quickly disappear, are washed out, and the active substance itself is destroyed in a natural way. In addition, individual individuals and populations of ticks can react differently to such odors.
Encephalitis vaccinations can be avoided with special medications. It is believed that vaccination is not needed if you constantly carry with you in case of a bite iodantipyrine or specific immunoglobulin. The virus will be killed after a shot or pill. However, these drugs, as well as a fairly wide range of antiviral agents offered in pharmacies, are simply low. Some studies have even shown that in people infected with the virus, after the introduction of immunoglobulin, the condition began to worsen. Iodantipyrine is generally contraindicated in people with thyroid disorders. It must be clearly understood that special drugs that can overcome tick-borne encephalitis simply do not exist. Those medicines used by doctors are needed to alleviate the symptoms of the disease. Over time, the virus will die on its own, and a person will receive permanent immunity to tick-borne encephalitis for life at the cost of his disability. So the very first symptoms of this viral disease require an immediate visit to the infectious diseases hospital. Some forms of encephalitis can develop so rapidly that even urgent resuscitation is required. The instruction says that a specific immunoglobulin must be injected 1-2 days after the bite. In practice, the tick sucks blood so imperceptibly that it may simply not be noticed. In the face of symptoms, the administration of immunoglobulin is no longer meaningful. And the effectiveness of this tool is quite controversial. Iodantipyrine has an efficiency according to the manufacturer's data - only 10%. So don't rely on this “miraculous” remedy.
Vaccination cannot protect against tick-borne encephalitis. According to this myth, there are people who are not protected from the disease by vaccination. The most reliable way to protect yourself from tick-borne encephalitis is vaccination. At the same time, one should not think that due to just one injection, full-fledged immunity will appear. Vaccination must be completed completely. The emergency version is shortened and is only suitable for one season. But in order for the vaccination to be effective for a long period, it is necessary to go through a full vaccination cycle, and in a year to undergo revaccination. True, an unvaccinated person does not necessarily get sick after being bitten by an encephalitis tick. The disease can pass in an erased or latent form. In this case, you can find out about its presence only by examining the blood for the presence of IgG antibodies in it that fight the virus. Experts say vaccination remains the only effective means of individual prevention.
Dangerous ticks are found only in the Far East and Siberia. This is far from being the case today. Most cases, about 70%, are actually registered in these regions. But the Tver, Kostroma, Yaroslavl and Leningrad regions have already begun to be considered unfavorable regions in relation to encephalitis. The Vologda, Sverdlovsk and Tomsk regions are also among the significant foci of tick-borne borreliosis. There were cases of the disease even in the Moscow region. Every year, several thousand people turn to doctors with complaints of a tick bite, while about every tenth bitten person actually suffers encephalitis. Such cases have been registered even in Moscow - ticks have chosen the Friendship Park, Losiny Ostro, Serebryany Bor.
Ticks are dangerous only in May-June. In our country, the first peak of tick activity occurs in early April, and ends only in mid-June. The largest number of bites is traditionally recorded in May. And in August, the second wave of aggression of bloodsuckers begins, it lasts right up to October. There were cases of bites in November and even in January. So a dangerous insect can manifest itself on New Year's holidays, you should not turn on vigilance only for two months a year.
The tick bite is easy to notice, redness appears around it, increasing in size. Erythema is relevant only during borreliosis, and even then not always. In half of the cases, a tick bite is not accompanied by reddening of the skin. And the creature itself preliminarily secretes an anesthetic substance. So after a walk in the forest, you should carefully examine your body not only for red spots, it would be nice to take a shower afterwards.
Ticks don't bite drunks. This myth is quite easy to explain. A drunk person can hardly find a bloodsucker on himself. In fact, drunkards are bitten in the same way as any other people, the smell of alcohol does not scare away ticks. However, the fact is that in one group of tourists there will certainly be such a person to whom the ticks will literally stick, as well as one to whom they generally remain indifferent.