Tick surge hits Spain this spring

Record tick numbers in Spain

Stock image of a tick on human skin. Credit: Evgeniyqw/Shutterstock com

The onset of warmth and milder conditions is perfect for ticks to thrive, posing a threat to pets and humans.

In 2024, owing to a mild winter, a warm start to spring, and increased rainfall, Spain is facing a notable rise in tick numbers.

According to Jorge Galvan, general director of ANECPLA (National Association of Environmental Health Companies), this year is set to break previous records for tick numbers. ‘It is expected that pests will continue to increase and among them arthropods, so there are more ticks this year,’ he reported to Eltiempo.

Environmental impact on tick growth

Recent years have seen a similar trend due to meteorological factors that are boosting certain pest populations like mosquitoes, cockroaches, and ticks across Spain.

‘Although it may seem paradoxical, in arthropods we are losing biodiversity, that is, we have fewer and fewer species. But of the species that we have left, we have more and more population,’ explains Galvan.

Furthermore, the abundant rainfall over the winter and early spring has prompted significant growth in both herbaceous and shrubby vegetation.

This, in turn, has led to an increased tick presence, particularly in areas inhabited by wild animals like rabbits, deer, and roe deer, as well as livestock including goats, sheep, and horses.

Risks and prevention of tick bites

Ticks, as arthropods, can transmit numerous diseases through bites, some of which can be severe or even fatal, thus posing a considerable public health risk.

Diseases such as rickettsiosis, Lyme borreliosis, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, tularemia, and Crimean-Congo fever are notable for their serious, sometimes lethal, outcomes if not properly treated.

Since the pandemic, the public’s interest in countryside activities has surged, increasing the risk of tick encounters.

‘We like to be in the countryside more and more, especially since the pandemic, so when we go out we must be careful because sometimes, in spaces where there are sheep, cows and other wild animals, we can find ticks and we have to be careful so as not to bring them home and with our pets,’ ANECPLA advises.

Preventive measures are vital, particularly during the peak activity months of April, May, and June. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers, avoiding open footwear like sandals, and opting for light-colored clothing to easily spot ticks are recommended strategies.

‘When we go to the field we have to be careful and check both ourselves and our pets, especially in our socks, behind the ears and soft parts where there will be a lot of blood circulation, which is where the tick will try to attach itself,’ commented Galvan.

Seeking professional medical help for tick removal is the best option; however, if home removal is necessary, use flat tweezers to carefully pull the tick without squeezing too hard or leaving any part inside the skin.

In some instances, healthcare professionals might also recommend analysing the tick to assess the risk of severe infections.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.