Hospitalisations for ticks have tripled in Spain over the last 15 years

Image of male and female ticks. Credit: Wikipedia - Daktaridudu CC BY-SA 4.0

A recent study has shown that during the last 15 years, the number of hospitalisations for ticks in Spain has tripled.

 

According to a recent epidemiological bulletin released by the National Epidemiology Department of the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII) in Madrid, the number of cases of Lyme disease in Spain has tripled in the last 15 years, as reported on Thursday, June 2 by diariodesevilla.es.

Compiled using data from the 2005-2019 period, the group responsible for the surveillance of Lyme disease at the facility observed that 1,865 patients had been hospitalised during this period. Compared to the previous 15-year period studied, this showed an increase in cases of 191.8 per cent.

There has also been a general increase in all the autonomies and a greater territorial distribution of the disease has been detected. The largest increases have occurred in Navarra (363 per cent), Catalonia (268 per cent), the Basque Country (232 per cent), and Murcia (238 per cent).

Lyme disease is an infectious pathology that is contracted through a bacterium that ticks transmit to humans and animals. According to the National Association of Environmental Health Companies (ANECPLA) in Madrid, the increase in temperatures as a result of climate change is one of the main causes of the increase in the number of ticks in the national territory.

The entity warns that the consequences of the bite of this arthropod can become serious, as evidenced by this increase in hospitalisations. Up to twenty species of ticks have been detected in Spain, some of which can transmit serious diseases beyond Lyme disease: viral encephalitis or Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, which has a mortality of 30 per cent without treatment.

As explained by Jorge Galvan, the general director of ANECPLA, “The danger is not only to need hospital care. Lyme disease, without adequate treatment, becomes chronic, seriously affecting the development of a normal life through acute neurological, cardiac and/or joint manifestations”.

Ticks live especially in the countryside, in areas where there is abundant vegetation and the presence of animals, as evidenced by the bulletin. It was observed that the largest number of hospitalised patients occurs in areas of Spain where ordinary professional activities are carried out in rural areas.

“Ticks can also be found in parks, gardens, swimming pools, and even on the beach”, pointed out Sergio Monge, the president of ANECPLA. He detailed that ticks are found in tall grass, making it easy for them to adhere to both animals and people when they pass nearby, subsequently feeding on their blood.

Adequate protective clothing is recommended, leaving as little skin as possible visible. After exposure to environments where the presence of this animal is expected, it is important to check both clothing, skin, and hair. Hot areas such as the armpits, neck, waist and head are its preferred location.

In the case of detecting a tick, remove it quickly, always with care, using an appropriate technique, and, whenever possible, keep it for possible subsequent analyses.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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