Ticks have become such a menace across Switzerland that the government is urging everyone to get vaccinated against one of the diseases they cause - early summer meningo-encephalitis (ESME). Health insurers will reimburse vaccination costs.
Previously only recommended in specific regions, the net for vaccinations has now been cast wider. That's because of an increase in cases of ESME, a disease which attacks the central nervous system: 380 cases were reported in 2018, compared to 100 per year in previous years.
According to the government information platform ch.chexternal link, the most widespread tick species in Switzerland is the wood tick. It prefers deciduous woods with abundant undergrowth, the edge of the forest and forest paths, and waits on low growing plants until a warm-blooded host (a person or animal) brushes against the plant. Ticks do not fall from trees.
Ticks have to be properly removed with tweezers. If part of the tick remains under the skin for longer than around 36-48 hours, there is a risk of becoming ill.
Lyme disease on the rise
A second disease transported by ticks is bacterial Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis). Most people who are treated right away with antibiotics have a good prognosis, but if treatment is delayed, the bacteria can move to the central nervous system, muscles, joints, eyes, and heart.
The Swiss league for patients with tick-borne diseasesexternal link recommends that people prevent 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.