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Ticks – how and where to watch out for them?

Ticks can transmit various pathogens. The two most important diseases are:

  • tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) (early summer meningo-encephalitis ESME)
  • Lyme borreliosis / Lyme disease

Risk areas

The most widespread tick species in Switzerland is the wood tick. It prefers deciduous woods with abundant undergrowth, the edge of the forest and forest paths, and waits on low growing plants until a warm-blooded host (person or animal) brushes against the plant. Ticks do not fall from trees.

Lyme borreliosis/Lyme disease

All areas where ticks occur are considered risk areas for Lyme borreliosis.

Early summer meningo-encephalitis (ESME)

The risk areas for ESME include the entire or parts of the cantons ZH, TG, SH, SG, GR, AG, LU, BE, SO, BL, NW, OW, UR, ZG, FR, VD, VS. To date, no areas with ESME-infected ticks have been above an altitude of around 1000 m above sea level.

You will find the latest information on the Federal Office of Public Health’s website about the areas where vaccination is recommended.

Precautions: protective measures and vaccination

How to protect yourself from ticks:

  • Wear tightly woven clothes.
  • Avoid brush and low lying vegetation.
  • Use repellent for skin and insecticide for clothing.
  • Check your body and clothing for ticks after spending time outdoors.

Lyme borreliosis/Lyme disease

There is no vaccination available against Lyme borreliosis. This disease is more common than ESME and can usually be treated with antibiotics.

Early summer meningo-encephalitis (ESME)

There is a vaccination against ESME, which the Federal Office of Public Health recommends for people who live or spend time in risk areas. Costs for vaccination in risk areas are covered by compulsory health insurance. The employer pays the cost of vaccination for people who are advised to get vaccinated for professional reasons (forest workers, foresters, farmers).

Disease symptoms of early summer meningo-encephalitis (ESME) and further information

Disease symptoms of Lyme borreliosis/Lyme disease and further information

Removing ticks from humans and animals

  • Since tick bites are often not noticed, closely examine your body and clothes for ticks after spending time outdoors. Ticks are easier to detect on light-coloured clothing.
  • You should also check your pets (e.g. dogs, cats or horses) for ticks.
  • It is important to remove a tick as soon as you find it. Use fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal device to grab the tick and pull it straight out. After the tick has been removed, disinfect the area of the tick bite.
  • Remember (or mark) the area of the tick bite. If you have a fever or other symptoms after being bitten by a tick, call your doctor.

More

Infection or toxic reactions caused by insect bites or stings, such as a tick bite, are considered an accident.