You most likely think that ticks pose a greater danger to your dog than to yourself. However, its presence is increasing due to rising temperatures and its bite is associated with several diseases. One of them is Lyme disease, named after a small town in Connecticut (United States) and leaves an identifying mark of a red “bull’s-eye” rash. This rash is called erythema migrans because it gets bigger every day.

During the last International Day of the fight against Lyme disease —which is celebrated every May 17—, the National Epidemiology Center of the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII) published a shocking report on the state of the pathology in Spain . Between the years 2005 and 2019 there has been the increase in hospitalizations for this cause by no less than 191% —with a total of 1,865 admitted patients— and its predominant geographic area had increased, according to this statement from the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Lyme disease is the disease most transmitted by ticks to humans in Western Europe, each year there are 200,000 cases in this region. It is considered an emerging pathology and in Spain it is a disease with mandatory regional declaration. The most frequent places to contract this disease are those where ticks live. This type of large mite develops more often in wooded areas and tall grass.

the culprit bacteria

Their life cycle is closely related to external temperatures and, therefore, the increase due to global warming is favoring the fact that they inhabit larger and larger territories. Not all ticks transmit this disease, only those that carry some of the bacteria of the genus borrelia. These microorganisms are actually the cause of the disease. that, in addition to erythema migrans, produce other symptoms in the short term and even in the long term if the disease is not treated quickly.

Along with its characteristic rash, Lyme disease causes fever, tiredness, and pain in the extremities. That is, symptoms that can be confused with the flu and, therefore, many times this disease is detected late. Early treatment for this disease consists of the administration of antibiotics that, in most cases, are effective. However, if the disease progresses, cardiovascular and even nervous system problems can develop.

[Piden extremar las precauciones ante el aumento “disparado” de garrapatas en España]

In fact, the ISCIII report indicates that the most frequent clinical presentation in hospitalizations in those 15 years was neurological. If the diagnosis of Lyme disease is delayed can lead to neuroborreliosis, which is a serious neurological infection. This condition of the nervous system is registered by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on the list of diseases under surveillance since 2018.

watch out for ticks

In addition, the infection caused by Lyme disease can also lead to cardiovascular diseases. The best known is Lyme carditis which, according to this article in The Conversation“occurs in approximately 1% of those infected. It is a ‘heart block’ that can cause the heart to beat dangerously irregularly“. Between the years 1985 and 2019 there have been a total of eleven deaths from Lyme carditis.

The way to protect yourself from Lyme disease is to wear clothing that covers most of your body—long-sleeved shirts and long pants—to avoid being bitten by ticks. It is estimated that in the risk areas of Europe between 5% and 40% of ticks are infected with the bacteria that produces the disease. In addition, policies to curb global warming can also be useful to keep this disease at bay.

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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