• Austria's news in English
Tick warning for Austria after mild winter
Ticks have eight legs. Photo: Wikimedia

Tick warning for Austria after mild winter

The Local · 20 May 2016, 10:13

Published: 20 May 2016 10:13 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

This means an increased risk of contracting the tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus and Lyme disease if bitten by an infected tick.

Contrary to popular belief, ticks do not jump or fall from trees, but wait in grass and shrub land for a host and will climb onto your clothes or skin if you brush against something they're on.

The more wild and natural the environment, the more likely it is that there will be ticks - although they can also be found in parks and gardens. Tick activity is at its highest during Spring and early Summer.

"When we have a mild winter, with temperatures over 5C to 7C, ticks are going to be more active. This doesn’t mean there are more ticks, just that they are more active,” says Georg Duscher, parasitologist and biologist at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna.

Every year he studies ticks in nature and analyses their pathogen. This year researchers observed active ticks as early as January and February.

If you’re bitten by a tick infected with TBE, it can be fatal. Last year 64 people across Austria were infected with TBE.

A vaccination provides protection against TBE in nine out of every ten people who receive it, although you can still get Lyme disease even if you’ve had the “Zeckenimpfung” vaccination.

The vaccine can be purchased in any chemist (Apotheke) in Austria and your doctor will then inject it for you.

Even if you've been vaccinated, you should still take precautions to reduce your risk of being bitten by an infected tick. If you’re out hiking in long grass it’s good practise to wear long-sleeved tops and trousers tucked into your socks, apply an insect repellent to exposed skin and check for ticks when you get home. Common places to find them are around the hairline, behind the ears, on or around the elbows, the backs of the knees, the groin and the armpits.

Lyme disease, or Lyme borreliosis, is a bacterial infection spread to humans by infected ticks. Lyme disease can often be treated effectively if it's detected early on. But if it's not treated or treatment is delayed, there's a risk you could develop severe and long-lasting symptoms.

Many people with early-stage Lyme disease develop a distinctive circular rash at the site of the tick bite, usually around three to 30 days after being bitten. The rash is often described as looking like a bull's-eye on a dart board. The affected area of skin will be red and the edges may feel slightly raised. Some people also experience flu-like symptoms in the early stages of Lyme disease.

Experts estimate that between 30 to 40 percent of ticks in Austria are infected with TBE and Lyme disease. The quicker you discover and remove the tick the less likely it is that they will infect you.

Story continues below…

If the tick has attached to your skin, it’s best to remove them with fine tipped tweezers or a special tick hook. You can also apply oil, glue or some other type of liquid to the tick before removing it. Ticks only breathe once or twice per hour - so if you cover them in oil or liquid they will suffocate.

Pull upward with a steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the head to break off and remain in the skin, causing infection.

After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water. If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor.  

Austria is one of the worst-affected countries in Central Europe for TBE - so even if you’re just coming to visit for a few weeks and plan to spend time in the parks and hike in nature, it’s worth thinking about getting the vaccination.

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Austrian far-right leader brands Merkel 'dangerous'
Heinz-Christian Strache. Photo: Facebook/Personal

The head of Austria's far-right Freedom Party has branded Angela Merkel Europe's most dangerous politician.

Austria 'horror clown' attacks leave several injured
Clown performers are not happy about the negative media stories. Photo: Graeme Maclean/Flickr

Several people have been injured in attacks by masked assailants dressed as 'creepy clowns' in the lead-up to Halloween.

Brunnenmarkt murder 'could have been prevented'
Locals remember the murdered woman. Photo: Wien Caritas

The random murder of a woman in Vienna could have been prevented if the homeless and mentally disturbed man who killed her had been admitted to a psychiatric institution.

Iraqi family ask ECJ to help them stay in Austria
Kumberg locals hold a vigil for the family. Photo: ORF

A group of people from Kumberg in Styria have asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for help in trying to stop the deportation of an Iraqi family.

The Local List
Five things you need to know about winter tyres
Photo: carmagazine.co.uk

It’s that time of year when temperatures start to plunge and drivers are advised to switch to winter tyres to avoid being caught out by snow and ice on the roads.

Radioactive uranium rocks on display in Austrian schools
Uraninite crystals. Photo: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com/Wikimedia

Education officials have carried out urgent checks in schools across the country after one of the stones on display in a classroom turned out to be radioactive.

Austrian churches slam far-right's 'God' slogan
Campaign poster for Norbert Hofer. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Austrian church officials have denounced far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer for "instrumentalising" God in a new slogan.

'Scary clown' pushes 14-year-old off his bike in Salzburg
Generic photo: Graeme Maclean/Flickr

A 14-year-old boy in Salzburg has been injured after being pushed off his bike by an individual dressed as a scary clown.

Police puzzled by random stabbing of teenager in Vienna
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A 15-year-old boy who was stabbed near his home in the Vienna district of Liesing on Friday morning by a complete stranger has spoken to the police.

'Sensational' 300-year-old Madonna found in Burgenland
The head of the statue was found beside the body. Photo: ORF

A 300-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary has been found hidden in a chapel next to a Catholic church in Loretto, Burgenland.

12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available