Wednesday 15 July 2020

New app aims to warn of the presence of ticks, 1.5 million people were bitten last year

Closeup of a full tick crawling on human skin

Every year 1.5 million people in the Netherlands are bitten by a tick, the Telegraaf said on Monday at the start of Tick Awareness Week.

The number of tick bites is up 30% on 10 years ago, and they are also now a risk in city gardens, biologist Arnold van Vliet told the paper.

Van Vliet, a biologist attached to Wageninen University, has been instrumental in the development of a tick alert system within the Nature Today app which is launched on Monday. The alert gives detailed information about the likely presence of ticks down to the kilometre.

‘We want to make people aware of the danger presented by tick bites,’ he said. ‘They can lead to serious complaints such as pain in the joints and nerves, tiredness and flu-like symptoms.’

According to the most recent figures from public health institute RIVM, 27,000 people were diagnosed with tick-borne Lyme’s disease in 2017, compared with just 6,000 in 1994.

Experts suggest warmer temperatures and the rising popularity of days out in the country may be behind the increase.

If people are bitten by a tick, they should pull it out with tweezers, without twisting the head, and monitor the location of the bite for three months. A red patch or ring is a sign that the tick was infected with Lyme.

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