Many Turku residents feel that there are more ticks this summer compared to previous years. That feeling is probably correct, researchers say.
Ticks are said to thrive best in humid environments such as tall grass, but the dry and hot summer still does not seem to bother the small arachnid very much.
On the contrary, many Turku residents testify that there seem to be an unusual number of ticks this year, and especially the really small nymphs that are so small that they can be difficult to see.
– The archipelago of Åboland and Åland has always been a favorable area for ticks even if the summer is dry. It is enough with rain in the spring for them to survive, says Tero Klemola who is a senior lecturer in biology at the University of Turku.
Klemola believes that people’s experience that there are now more ticks is probably true. Ticks thrive in most areas. It is only in built-up areas and on asphalt that the tick has difficulty surviving – and in very dry areas.
Larger ticks are more likely to carry bacteria
A tick in the nymph stage is two years old and only 1-2 millimeters in size. This means that it is almost invisible to the naked eye. As an adult, the tick is 3-5 millimeters and a little easier to see on the skin. The tick lives for 4 years.
Are nymphs more or less dangerous than adult ticks?
– The adult tick is more likely to carry bacteria that cause Lyme disease. The same applies to the tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus. On the other hand, the adult ticks are often detected before the infection is transmitted to the carrier. Because the nymphs are so small, they are more difficult to detect, which increases the chances of getting the infection, says Klemola.
It is usually expected that the tick will be stuck for about a day before the Lyme disease bacterium is transmitted to humans. The virus that causes TBE, on the other hand, is transmitted directly from ticks to humans.
Klemola says that an adult tick with a 30-40 percent probability carries the Lyme disease bacterium, while the probability that a nymph will be infected with Lyme disease is 20-30 percent. The reason why the adult tick is more likely to carry the infection is that it has had several blood meals during its lifetime.
The blood meal for the diseases further
It is by sucking blood from, for example, rodents that the ticks become infected with Lyme disease or tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). Klemola says that it is mainly rodents and birds that carry the bacterium Lyme disease and the virus that causes TBE and passes it on to the tick.
As a larva, the tick is harmless, at this stage it has not yet had its first blood meal.
Summer residents can be vaccinated free of charge
To protect yourself against TBE, it is recommended that you get vaccinated. The national vaccination program includes Pargas, and in the area, residents and summer residents receive a free start series of TBE vaccines.
However, the vaccine does not protect against Lyme disease. The disease caused by the bacterium Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics.