Several serious diseases can be spread by ticks native to our country, which have become so widespread that they can even be present in green belts in urban areas. One such disease is Lyme disease, which can cause long-lasting problems if left untreated.
Tick prevalence is common in Hungary
Their prevalence is mostly associated with rich understorey forests and other shrubby wooded areas. Researchers say this is because they have the lowest heat and humidity fluctuations and the highest number of potential hosts. However, urban bush areas are now also affected.
Lyme disease is a vector-borne, bacterial disease that is most common in the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere, says the National Centre for Epidemiology.
The ticks are among us
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, on average 12% of ticks in Europe carry the Lyme disease virus. Tick infestation is highest in central European countries and the Baltic States.
The outbreak was described in 1975 in Old Lyme, Connecticut, USA, as an outbreak of arthritis, mainly affecting children, in which the inflammation was often preceded by a characteristic skin symptom.
The bacterium that causes the disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) was identified in 1982 by Willy Burgdorfer from the feeding tunnels of Ixodes ticks.
It has characteristic symptoms
The early symptoms of Lyme disease vary. In the early stages, a small, red bump often appears at the site of the tick bite, which disappears within a few days. This does not yet indicate Lyme disease.
A rash may appear within a month of infection. An extensive red area may appear, sometimes clearing up in the middle. The rash may spread over a period of days and may grow to 30 cm. It is not usually itchy or painful, but may be warm to the touch. It may be accompanied by fever, chills, fatigue, headache, neck stiffness and swollen lymph nodes.
In the absence of treatment, complications of Lyme disease can appear in the weeks or months following a tick bite. One of these complications is severe joint pain and swelling, which is particularly likely to affect the knee, but the pain can also spread from one joint to another.
Neurological problems may also appear
Weeks, months or even years after the infection, you may develop inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain, temporary paralysis of one side of the face (Bell’s palsy), numbness or weakness of the limbs, and impaired muscle movement. It can also be accompanied by heart problems, inflammation of the eyes and hepatitis. Severe fatigue may also be a sign of the disease.
Early detection makes recovery easier
If detected early, Lyme disease can be treated effectively with oral antibiotics. In late-onset stages, diagnosis is more difficult and the doctor will perform antibody detection from a blood sample (possibly in addition to other tests). In this case, intravenous treatment may be necessary. It is advisable to have a follow-up test one year after diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease, because if further positive results are found, treatment will need to be repeated.
Prevention of the disease
If you go to wooded, dense bush areas, it is important to wear closed clothing and use tick repellents. After outings it is a good idea to check the whole body, especially the hairline. In case of a bite, it is important to remove the tick properly and as early as possible. And if you notice any of the above symptoms, seek medical advice, as early diagnosis can speed up recovery and prevent complications.