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Watch out for ticks

Ticks are also in Spain


Ticks. They also occur in Spain. And especially if you walk or cycle a lot in the open air, such as during a camino, it is important to watch out. Ticks are almost invisible to the naked eye and once they are on you they are difficult to remove. And removal is a necessity, because a tick can cause Lyme disease.

Research by the RIVM into Lyme disease shows a strong growth. In 2001, GPs diagnosed Lyme disease in around 12,000 people. In 2005 this grew to around 17,000 people and that number has risen to 25,000 in 2017 and to 27,000 in 2018.

Ticks in Spain  
Ticks are there all year round, but they are only active when the temperature rises above 7 degrees. During your pilgrimage you may cross different areas. The amount of ticks varies enormously per region, but they occur everywhere. Ticks have a preference for mixed deciduous forest with a lush overgrowth of grasses, shrubs, ferns and lots of dead leaves. You will find ticks considerably less in open areas such as dunes, heaths, floodplains and meadows. But what is a tick?

What is a tick?
A tick is a small insect. It looks like a little spider. Just like a spider, it has a body, a head and eight legs. The head has two powerful jaws. Tick ​​larvae live up to 20 centimeters above the ground, nymphs up to 40 centimeters and an adult tick up to 80 centimeters high. That sign falling from trees is a sandwich monkey story and they can't jump either.

Lyme disease 
The problem of ticks is not the tick itself, but a bacterium that can carry the tick: the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium. This bacterium is the cause of Lyme disease. Approximately 1 in 5 ticks has this bacterium. In 2018, about 1.3 million people were bitten by a tick, but only 2% of these people actually got Lyme disease. Most people get bitten between March and October.

Red circle? Go to the doctor!
The most visible proof that you have been bitten by a tick and actually has Lyme, is a red circle around the spot where the tick has bitten. This usually occurs between 3 and 10 days after an infection, but it is also possible somewhere within three months. The circle is usually oval in shape and has a size of between 5 and 40 cm. Do you see a red circle during your pilgrimage? Go to the doctor right away! You will receive an antibiotic treatment to fight the disease.

How to avoid a tick bite?
I have the following tips for you:

  • Ticks are in greenery. So avoid this. If you stick to the roads and paths of the camino, the chance of a tick bite is very small.
  • Wear your socks over your pants. Masking with tape or an elastic band can also occur within a crawling sign.
  • Preferably walk in light clothing, because then you will spot sign sooner.
  • When the weather is warm and you walk or cycle in shorts, it is also recommended to rub in with DEET or a product containing lemon eucalyptus (Citriodiol).
  • Wash your clothes at 60 degrees. This causes ticks to be killed.
  • And the best thing is to regularly check yourself and your traveling companions for ticks during your pilgrimage. The quicker you are there, the easier it is to remove a tick. Find ticks preferably in the soft and warm spots of the body. Places you can hardly reach yourself. If you go out on your own: take a mirror with you.

Demove a tick bite
Have you been bitten? Then it is necessary to remove the tick as quickly as possible. This can be done in various ways:

  • The easiest and most effective way is with a pointed pair of tweezers, a special tick forceps or drawing lasso. Always take this with you when you go on a pilgrimage.
  • After removal, disinfect the wound with 70% alcohol or iodine tincture.
  • Afterwards it is advisable to circle the place where you were bitten with a pen. This way you can keep a close eye on him and you can quickly see if a red circle is developing. Put the date and time in your agenda when you have removed the tick. Certainly if you do not know how long the tick has been on your body. If you do not get a red circle, but only at a much later stage of the illness that you cannot bring home, then you always have that date to fall back on.

Annemiek Nefkens
Happy Holiday Manager

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