About Ticks and the Diseases Connected to Them

**All projects are carried out during the tick low season. This reduces the probability of catching a tick borne related infection. However, there is still a chance therefore it is important to be fully aware of the risks and the preventative measures**

Tick-borne encephalitis – a viral infection transmitted by ticks and occurring in the region surrounding Lake Baikal. This disease attacks the central nervous system. Infection is transmitted when an infected tick bites an organism and viruses are transferred through the saliva. The disease infects humans as well as some animals- rodents, domestic cattle, monkeys, and some birds.

Ticks are most abundant in damp, wooded areas where ground cover is thick. More ticks are found in developed or partially developed areas (gardens, roads, tracks, etc.) than in areas of the forest untouched by humans. Ticks do not tolerate direct sunlight and dry air. The erroneous opinion is sometimes distributed that ticks inhabit trees and, attracted by the smell, drop down onto people below. Actually, ticks most commonly live in grass or bushes alongside roads and tracks and cling to the clothing of people passing by. Once latched onto a person’s clothing, the tick finds its way underneath clothing or to exposed areas and, gets in the skin using its sharp proboscis, feeds on the blood of the host organism. In this way such diseases as Lime disease and the more dangerous Tick-Borne Encephalitis may be transferred to the person.

Ticks attach themselves to the places where the skin is more delicate and capillaries are closer to the surface: on the neck, behind the ears, in the arm-pits, on the back, in the hair part or in groin areas. It is possible to not feel a tick’s bite; when the tick bites an anesthetizing chemical enters with the tick’s saliva.

The incubatory period of disease on average is 1-2 weeks, sometimes delayed up to 3 weeks. It is possible to explain the varying duration of the incubatory period by the character of a bite – the longer the tick is attached to the skin, the more virus can penetrate into an organism and the faster the disease will develop.

Disease develops quickly, within several days. The virus invades the grey matter of the brain, attacking peripheral nerves in the spinal cord, and neurons that control motor function. Symptoms include spasms, paralyses of separate muscles or entire groups of muscles, and decreased sensitivity of the skin. In later stages the virus multiplies and multiple serious symptoms may develop. These can include persistent headaches, vomiting and loss of consciousness. Infected person may become comatose or, on the contrary, experience psychomotor excitation with loss of orientation. The cardiovascular irregularities can occur, including (myocarditis, cardiovascular insufficiency, and arrhythmia.) In the digestive system, constipation, enlargement of the liver and spleen later may be marked. All listed effects can be symptomatic of eventual toxic defeat of the infected organism, culminating in a rise in body temperature of up to 39-40оС (102-104 F). In some cases, upon attack of spinal nerves, disease may progress into a type of “radiculitis” (inflammation of the nerves surrounding the spinal cord).

Tick-borne encephalitis can be avoided with the help of nonspecific and specific preventive maintenance.

Nonspecific Preventive Maintenance: You should use tick – repellents to spray your clothes and each person should examine their clothes and body, and remove any ticks they may find.

For removal of ticks stuck to the skin, apply a grease with any fat (vaseline, a cream, sunflower oil), and in 15-20 minutes very cautiously remove the tick using a tweezers or a loop of thread tightened around the tick, being careful not to shake it here and there when lifting it off the skin. It is important that the tick’s head does not become detached from its body and remain lodged in the skin.. Once the tick is removed, it is necessary to burn it to keep it from possibly further spreading the virus. Treat the site of the tick bite with iodine or alcohol and carefully wash hands afterward.

Specific preventive maintenance is carried out with the help of vaccines. To avoid infection from tick bites, it is necessary beforehand (in autumn or in the winter, from November – March) to receive preventive inoculations against tick-borne encephalitis. Illness is easier to prevent than to treat. To receive an inoculation it is necessary to have: the obligatory medical insurance policy, information about any medical allergies, and a passport.

Addresses of Services for an Inoculation:

Moscow. A polyclinic № 13. Negllinnaya, 14. ph. 928-65-04 (help), 921-94-65 (a study of inoculations). Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday from 9.00 till 19.00 .

Irkutsk. Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology VSNC SO RAMN, the centre of diagnostics and emergency preventive maintenance ticks encephalitis. K.Marksa, 3.ph. 33-68-63, 33-39-51, 33-39-71. Hours of operation: Monday to Sunday from 9.00 till 17.00, Closed from 12.00 till 13.00 on Saturday and Sunday.

Ulan-Ude. A polyclinic № 1 First Territorial Medical Association, Street Kalandarashvili, 23. ph. (301-2) 21-02-37. An infectious study.

Persons may not receive to vaccination who are already experiencing: complicated infections or infectious diseases, aggravations of chronic diseases, allergic reactions to chicken eggs, progressing diseases of nervous system, malignant neoplasm, illnesses of blood, pregnancy (inoculations are allowable in 2 weeks after delivery).

Emergency preventive maintenance (preventive maintenance after a tick bite) may be carried out with the help of an injection of immunoglobulins within three days from the moment of a bite.

If possible, keep the tick in a piece of a damp fabric for later laboratory research. By results of the analysis a doctor can determine whether emergency preventative maintenance is necessary.

Lime Disease

Lime Disease – an infectious disease caused by spirochetes and transmitted by ticks, leading to chronic effects (recurrent) on the skin, nervous system, motor function and heart.

Development of Illness. Infection occurs with the infected tick’s bite. Microbes enter with the tick’s saliva through the skin and multiply within several days, after which they are distributed to other areas of the body, both external (skin) and internal (heart, brain, joints, etc.). Microbes can live in the infected organism for a long time (years), causing chronic and recurrence of the disease. Chronic recurrence of illness may become more developed over a long period of time. Development of Lime Disease is similar to development of syphilis.

The Incubatory Period – from 2 about 35 days, on the average – 7-10 days.

Initial Characteristics of the beginning stages of the disease (in 70 % of cases) is reddening of the skin on the area surrounding the tick’s bite. The red mark (rash) gradually increases in diameter reaching 1-10 cm in diameter, sometimes up to 60 cm or more. The form of a rash may be round or oval, or less frequently, irregular. The outside edge of the rash is more red and slightly raised. These symptoms are accompanied by fatigue, weakness, headaches and muscular pains, joint pains, rise in temperature and swelling of lymph nodes. In due course the centre of the rash turns pale or acquires a bluish shade and the form of a ring is created. The tick’s bite, located in the center of the rash, develops a scab followed by a scar. Without treatment the disappears within 2-3 weeks.

After 4-6 the microbes begin to attack the central nervous system, heart and joints.

Recognition of Illness. People who develop a red rash on the site of a tick bite should immediately be concerned about Lime Disease. Diagnosis can be confirmed by blood analysis.

Treatment should be carried outspent in a hospital where the proper specific treatment can be provided. Without such treatment the illness can progresses, become chronically recurring, and in some cases result in permanent physical disability.

Prophylactic Medical Examination. Persons who have been ill with Lime Disease should remain under medical supervision for 2 years following treatment, receiving checkups at 3, 6, and12 months and after 2 years.

Illness Prevention. Spraying of clothes with tick repellent can provide protection for an entire day of exposure to the tick’s habitat.

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