Physicians in Switzerland have seen a sharp increase in the number of tick bites as well as cases of Lyme disease this year.
As of the end of July, doctors across the nation had treated 22,000 people for tick bites. In comparison, the whole of 2015 saw just 14,300 visits, according to the Federal Office of Public Health. The figure is the highest since the office started recording tick bite cases in 2008.
The high number of tick bites is also associated with a higher number of Lyme disease cases. So far this year there have been 8,400 cases of acute Lyme disease. In 2015 the figure was 5,300, and there were 8,700 cases in 2013 – considered a particularly bad year for tick-related illnesses.
Meanwhile, 119 people have contracted tick-borne encephalitis this year. In recent years, the annual figures have fluctuated between 40 and 170 cases. There is a vaccination for tick-borne encephalitis, but not for Lyme disease.
Mild temperatures in January and February gave the tick season a jump start this year. Ticks are active from 7° Celcius, and their “high season” is typically May and June. The most common type of tick found in Switzerland is the wood tick, also known as the American dog tick.
The Swiss league for patients with tick-borne diseases recommends that people prevent tick bites by avoiding bushes and tall grass, by wearing clothing that covers the arms, legs and feet, and by checking the body carefully for ticks and their larvae.