Sharp fall in cases of tick-borne illnesses in Switzerland
There was a serious drop in the number of cases of people in Switzerland being infected with tick-born illnesses such as tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) and Lyme disease in the first six months of this year, the Swiss health department has reported.
The number of cases of TBE in the first half of 2019 was 127 against 218 for the same period last year.
Meanwhile, the number of doctor’s visits for Lyme disease was down from nearly 10,000 in the first six months of last year to 3,600 from January to June 2019.
The figures (here in German) come several months after the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) launched a campaign calling for people in affected areas to get vaccinated against TBE.
Numbers close to long-term averages
Daniel Koch of the FOPH said that it was clear less tick bites were being seen but noted that figures for 2019 were closer to long-term averages.
Speaking to Swiss news agency SDA, Koch warned it was too early to say whether increased rates of immunisation were part of the reason for the fall in the number of cases.
But he added it was clear people were heeding government advice on how to reduce the risk of tick bites.
Swiss health authorities say you can help protect yourself against tick bites by wearing tightly woven clothes and avoiding brush and low-lying vegetation.
You should also use repellent for skin and insecticide for clothing and check your body and clothing for ticks after spending time outdoors.
For more information (in English) on how to check for ticks, see here.
Treatments for tick-born illnesses
Vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis, which attacks the nervous system and is potentially fatal, is particularly important given that no known treatment for the disease exists.
People are advised to get the three preventive vaccinations, which last for 10 years, in winter to ensure that they are protected from the months of April to October when ticks are most active.
There is no vaccination available for Lyme Disease. it must be treated early with antibiotics if complications are to be avoided.