Story. In over 200 million years, they have barely changed their structure or way of life. They suck blood and transmit deadly diseases.. They are resilient and can adapt extremely well. Ticks have even outlived dinosaurs. To date. Over 900 species of these parasitic bloodsuckers have been discovered across the world.. The most variety most commonly found in Central Europe is the sheep tick.. It may be small, but it can be dangerous to humans as it transmits diseases such as tick borne encephalitis, TBE and Lyme. Disease., This is also an important issue for the Bundeswehr., Particularly for soldiers who spend a lot of time outdoors, such as at major training areas and therefore need to take this risk into account.. This is why a vaccine against the virus would certainly be helpful.. It would make sense as a way to prevent this meningitis, this viral infection, particularly when you consider that the viral infection cannot be treated. When it does break out, and unfortunately, there have many such tragic cases this year. Then it simply has to take its course, as nothing can be done in terms of treatment.. This is why vaccination is particularly important.. It is the only broadly safe way to prevent infection., Of course, with Lyme disease. Once it breaks out, the infection can be treated successfully with antibiotics.. We accompany Lieutenant Colonel Professor, Gerhard Dobler and his wife at work at the Bundeswehr Institute for Microbiology.. The pair of researchers are two of the worlds leading experts on ticks and the pathogens they transmit to humans.
During their joint research. They have discovered a worrying change. Weve, monitored this for around 12 years now. And in the last three years, weve seen and we dont. Yet know why this has happened over the last three years that the number of ticks has dramatically increased. It has more than doubled compared to the previous nine years.. At the same time were seeing, the number of TBE cases has clearly increased in recent years.quot During its life cycle. A tick goes through three different stages of development: first, as larva, then as a nymph and later as male or female.. During each phase, it needs. What is called a blood meal which it can use to survive for up to two years. When engorged with blood it can become 100 to 200 times bigger. Some species, like the giant tropical tick, can become about as big as a cherry. When it punctures the skin. The tick secretes a substance in its saliva that inhibits blood clotting and numbs the wound.. This is why the bloodsucking can go unnoticed.. This is the hypostome. You can see the barbs very clearly here. The hypostome pierces the skin up to about here and the tick lodges. There. The tick can stick there so well, because once it has bitten, it excretes a cement like substance into the wound and sort of cements itself there. Once it has sucked enough blood it dissolves the cement and removes the stinger before falling off. Ticks such as the Sheep tick are survivors and are active all year, round.
They can even survive for several hours in freezer compartment. Temperatures of minus 12 degrees.. Conversely, they dont like direct hot sunlight.. This is why you tend to find them in woodland and meadows where it is shadier and cooler.. Professor Dobler gives us three tips for how to best protect ourselves.. A key point is to avoid coming into direct contact with vegetation.. The second important point is to wear long trousers and in particular, where possible, and this isnt possible for the Bundeswehr, but members of the public should wear light coloured, clothing. Tucking. Your trouser legs into your socks reduces the likelihood of ticks, reaching your skin and being able to bite., And the third important point is, after a stint outdoors, carefully check for ticks.. That means paying particular attention to clammy and thin areas of skin, like the hollow of the knee, for example, the groin is another area, as well as the armpits and for women, the area under the breasts.. These are a ticks, favourite places to bite and need to be checked. Carefully.. We join the pair of researchers in the long grass on the hunt for ticks. In the past. They have collected between 30 and 500 ticks per hour.. We use long white sheets and rely on the torpidity of native ticks that hardly move. Instead, they wait to be picked up.. They detect their victims using a special sensory organ.. You can see this indentation here.. You can also see it clearly here on the leg which the tick is moving.
This is known as Hallers organ.. The tick uses this to sense its surroundings and can even measure stimuli such as temperature variations in its surroundings. So they are quickly able to detect a mammal which is warmer than its surroundings.. Here there are CO2 receptors, as the air breathed out by an animal contains much more CO2 which the tick can detect.. The tick is also able to use this organ to detect specific substances in sweat or butyric acid, for example, and then react to the fact that a host is in the vicinity and prepare itself to be picked up.. The sheet method has worked.. After only five minutes. We have gathered the first ticks., They are in various stages of development.. I didnt think we would already find a couple of ticks on this short stretch.. This here is a nymph and actually the nymphs are most dangerous because – and you can really see this here – theyre very small and therefore are often overlooked.. Adult ticks are naturally larger and you can feel them on your skin.. The nymphs are so small that, for the most part you cant feel them at all, but theyre, just as effective at transmitting the virus. Weve completed, lab studies that show nymphs carry as much virus as adult animals. Ticks are found throughout Germany from the North Sea and Baltic Sea to the Alps., However, there are more infections in the south.. This is a serious problem for Bundeswehr soldiers too.
. The combat uniform offers an effective external protection barrier., Of course, first and foremost the uniform offers mechanical protection.. The ticks must reach the skin through a uniform. Vector. Control that is impregnated uniforms are definitely relevant in Germany.. We know that these impregnated materials can also deter ticks, not just mosquitoes or sand. Flies.. Also tick and insect repellent applied to the skin does help deter the parasites.. If, despite all these precautionary measures, you still get bitten by a tick, you must do the following. We take a pair of tweezers position them right next to the skin and then pull the tick out.. You can get tick, pliers, tick, lassoes, tick, cards.! What you need to do is remove the tick as quickly as possible. Dont wait over the weekend before going to the unit physician or GP, on Monday. Dont drip, glue or oil onto the tick.. It doesnt help and actually makes it worse because the tick becomes agitated and may secrete. Even more pathogens., Like I said, just pull out the tick without twisting it too much.. If the hypostome remains stuck in the skin, thats really not a problem, because it can no longer transmit anything., No more pathogens can be transmitted. And the skin will remove it. As a foreign body within a few days., Soldiers must be more aware of the increasing threat of ticks in Bundeswehr theatres of operation too.. Due to global warming, several species have been able to extend their habitat.
. One of areas affected is NATOs EFP mission in the Baltics.. In Lithuania, as in the majority of Baltic states, were in a situation where, in addition to the sheep tick, our tick, the taiga tick is also present in parts of the country., Its a close relative of the sheep tick, and they are difficult to distinguish from one Another. They can also transmit a virus, namely the Siberian and Far Eastern subtype of this TBE virus, which we did not have in Germany until now.. These virus strains can cause many serious symptoms. In humans. We estimate there is a 20 death rate with the Far Eastern subtype., So we are exposing our soldiers to increased risk here.. The good thing is that the TBE vaccination also protects against this Asian and Siberian form of the virus. Tick destroyer. Professor Dobler has given us fascinating insights into a world that is barely visible, but that is a threat to humans.. We have received lots of information and tips..