HealthFirst

Ticks – get jabbed

27th March 2024

Posted by Dr Michelle Wright

Tick tock – Dr Michelle reminds us of the importance of vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis, with March to April being prime time to get your jabs!

When is the ideal time to get vaccinated?

You might have seen pharmacies advertising vaccination against tick-borne infection over the last few weeks.  

It’s part of a campaign to encourage people across the country to get jabbed – with March to April being the ideal time.  

What infections can ticks transmit?

There are two important infections that ticks in Switzerland may transmit to humans.  

Lyme disease, caused by bacteria, can be treated with antibiotics if caught early. However, tick-borne meningo-encephalitis, a viral infection, lacks a specific treatment.  

But here’s the good news – there’s a vaccine available against tick-borne meningo-encephalitis, recommended by the Federal Office of Public Health recommends vaccination for anyone over the age of 6 years living in high-risk areas, or regularly visiting them – so essentially this is the whole of Switzerland except the cantons of Geneva and Ticino.  

The vaccine requires three doses, spaced over several months, with a booster shot recommended every ten years for continued protection. 

Concerned about the cost? Don’t worry. Vaccination is covered by compulsory health insurance, although deductibles and co-payments may apply. So, whether at pharmacies or through your doctor, getting vaccinated is convenient and accessible. 

Other prevention measures you can take

But vaccination isn’t the only defense. Ticks love to lurk in dense foliage and latch onto passersby. Wearing long trousers, socks, and closed shoes and applying insect repellent can help deter them.  

And don’t forget to check yourself, your loved ones, and even your pets for ticks after outdoor activities. Ticks like to hang out in warm, moist parts where the skin is softer – the groin, under the arms, around the hairline, behind the ears or behind the knees. 

What to do if you find a tick?

If you find a tick, remove it promptly using specialized tools available at pharmacies. And you can ask your local pharmacist – many provide a tick-removal service.  

It can take up to 24-48 hours for germs to pass from the tick to you so the sooner it’s removed, the better. 

Once removed, wash and disinfect the area around the bite. And if you think some of the tick has been left behind, see a doctor. 

Keep an eye on the bite site for any signs of infection, such as redness or rash. And if in doubt, seek medical attention immediately. 

So, as we enjoy the great outdoors, let’s stay vigilant against these tiny but potentially dangerous creatures. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to tick-borne infections. 

Thanks for tuning in to this week’s Health Matters. Stay safe, stay informed, and until next time, take care. 

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