What to do with tick bites: recommendations of an entomologist

Anastasia Antonovskaya, a specialist in red-body ticks, an employee of the Department of Entomology of the Biological Faculty of Moscow State University, said that in her opinion should not be done with tick bites, how to pull them out correctly and how dangerous these arachnids are.

Can a tick be confused with a blood-sucking insect?

In general, in Russia hardly anyone else can dig in as much as an ixodid tick does. They have a characteristic shape: almost oval and flat, a semicircular shield, no head. What sticks out can be rather called a proboscis. These are the jaws embedded in the case. Other ticks can attack a person (and here they can be easily confused with something else, because these others are quite small arachnids). But you will recognize ixodid ticks right away. In principle, the so-called moose flies (Hippobosca spp.) Are a little similar to them after they have thrown off their wings, but they are more stocky and thicker. And, unlike ticks, they have a head with eyes. At the beginning of summer in the middle zone of Russia you are unlikely to meet them.

If it is a tick that has stuck, then what is definitely not worth doing?

Almost no research has been done on effective tick removal methods. But do not wait until the tick falls off itself. Also, do not smear with oil, set fire or bring a hot match. These methods will do more harm than good: either they will contribute to the development of inflammation, the introduction of unnecessary microflora (after all, when fed, the tick cuts through the skin, a wound forms), or additionally damage the skin. Do not drink antibiotics right away.

If one tick is stuck, perhaps some more are sitting on you somewhere. Once, in the mountains of Abkhazia, about 10 ticks attacked me - there was a high number of them. So it would be nice to carefully look at other parts of the body and at the clothes - suddenly other mites also lurked there. Do not panic yet. If you decide to search the Internet for help, remember that not all people writing there are qualified doctors. Check sources. Go to the website of the Rospotrebnadzor or the Department of Health (each region has its own, on the portal of the Ministry of Health there is a list of sites - a note of "Popular Mechanics" ). Call the hotline.

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How to remove a tick? Take tweezers or a thread? Can you grab from the sides or from the abdomen and back?

Personally, I never tried to remove the thread. It seems to me that this is more likely to tear the proboscis from the body. But it depends on how far you are from civilization, and what you have at hand. With tweezers, you can grab the abdomen and back, closer to the base of the proboscis - there the tick has rather dense covers. Once grasped, you should pull the tick with even effort. You can twist it (clockwise or after - it does not matter). There is evidence that this is a faster way, but the teeth break off more often. The jaws of the tick carry weapons in the form of teeth directed backwards: like some types of arrows - to make it harder to pull out. And physical strength will not help here. Only cunning and patience. You can also swing the tick in the wound and carefully pull it out, but there is a risk of breaking off the jaw. Do not sharply drag the tick from the wound. Although I repeat once again that there is no uniquely effective way. By the way, pharmacies sell special loops for removing ticks. Maybe you should buy one.

What should I do if the body of the tick comes off and the proboscis remains inside?

You need to take a needle or tweezers, wipe them with alcohol, or at least wash them with soap and gently pull out the proboscis. If a very small fragment remains, you can simply treat the wound with a solution of iodine. If you have problems, it is better to go to the emergency room, where doctors will provide qualified assistance.

The tick is safely removed. What to do next?

Treat the wound with a disinfectant: iodine, betadine or hydrogen peroxide. Most likely there will be inflammation at the site of the bite, it can itch (no need to scratch). Once the tick has been pulled out, place it immediately in a test tube or in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. It is always advisable to keep the tick that bit you. In general, if there is any doubt: whether the tick was removed correctly, if you are not ill, call the Department of Health or the Institute of Epidemiology. The website of the Moscow Department of Health has key information: hospital addresses, phone numbers. At the Institute of Epidemiology on Novogireevskaya Street, you can pass a tick for analysis (CMD laboratory). They also have a “Watch out, ticks!” Hotline. If the test results show that the tick was not a carrier of either borrelia or tick-borne encephalitis virus, you should monitor your health and likely symptoms for at least a month. Diagnostic errors may occur.

What can be infected from a tick and how likely is it to catch an unpleasant disease from it?

The danger and likelihood of getting something unpleasant depends not only on your body, but also on what part of the globe a tick has bitten you. Our country is large, and there are a lot of diverse landscapes and conditions in which this or that focus of the disease can develop. The most famous and common diseases in Central Russia of the disease with which ixodid ticks are associated are tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme borreliosis.

Make sure that everything is possible only if enough time has passed since the bite. At least 30 days. Tick-borne encephalitis virus can occur after 60 days, although in some people the infection is asymptomatic. Borreliosis is unpleasant with possible complications when the pathogen spreads to the myocardium, muscles, joints, even to the brain. So if there are symptoms, consult a doctor in an infectious diseases hospital, or call the hotline, they will tell you which antibiotic should be drunk. I remind you that antibiotics are powerless against the tick-borne encephalitis virus, so if you have any suspicions, you need to immediately go to the hospital.

How to check for tick-borne encephalitis in the region, and how to notice its first symptoms?

On the website of Rospotrebnadzor there is a list of endemic territories for tick-borne encephalitis (link for data for 2016, no newer information was found - note “Popular Mechanics” ). Check if there is one where the tick bit you. If there are many cases on the territory, and you do not have the vaccine, from the strain that is widespread there, call the infectious diseases hospital hotline (in Moscow this seems to be the 2nd, and for children, the Filatov hospital). Within 4 days after the bite, emergency seroprophylaxis can help when specific antibodies against tick-borne encephalitis virus are administered.

Virus strains that are common in different territories with different probabilities can lead to serious consequences (paralysis or even death). From this point of view, the Far East is more dangerous than the European part of Russia. So you need to closely monitor your health after a tick bite for at least 2 weeks. Tick-borne encephalitis begins abruptly with a strong fever, severe headaches, vomiting, nausea, muscle pain, often reddened face, body parts. By the way, in Europe, a strain of tick-borne encephalitis virus causes very mild symptoms and is much less dangerous than in Russia.

And how does borreliosis manifest itself?

Within 30 days after a tick bite, you need to monitor your condition. Typical symptoms of borreliosis are a papule at the site of a bite, redness, erythema on the body, and fever. Typically, the incubation period of the infection lasts 10-14 days. At this time, weakness, malaise, muscle and joint pain can be observed. More about Borrelia. Even if the percentage of ticks infected with borrelia in the region is high, this does not always mean that when you bite an infected tick, you will definitely get sick. Only 5-7% of ticks infected with borrelia have bacteria in the salivary glands. This means that most ticks will not be able to transmit pathogens to the body with a bite. If the sucking tick with borrelia in the intestines or gonads is crushed or damaged, you can enter them in the wounds on the skin or on the mucous membranes, and thus become infected. So remove the tick carefully. There are also cases of short and inconspicuous bites of males: bitten and then fled. Nevertheless, the male can transmit borrelia through such bites.

Anything other than borreliosis and tick-borne encephalitis, is it possible to become infected after a bite?

All over the world there are many more diseases that are associated with ticks. Of those that are found in Russia, Crimean hemorrhagic fever is common, for example (these are areas located in the steppe, forest-steppe zones, for example, Rostov, Astrakhan region, Stavropol Territory, Kalmykia, etc.). Its causative agent is also a virus. There are also Omsk hemorrhagic fever, Kemerovo fever, Q fever (rickettsiosis), etc. Therefore, the risk of contracting depends on where and how you live, work or relax. A variety of mixed infections also occur (when a person becomes infected not with one, but with several pathogenic microorganisms).

And if you find a tick on your pet, act on the same algorithm?

Yes, unscrew it by gently loosening it. Unfortunately, I have no pets, so I can’t say anything from my experience. Animals also get sick, in particular, borreliosis. The main thing is not to be afraid, act immediately and quickly. For pets, there are special pills that, after ingestion, scare away ticks from the dog. I think everyone who has a dog or cat goes to the vet, who knows much more about me than animals and ticks.

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