A MAP showing where ticks are most common in France highlights an area from the south west, through the central region and on into the north east corner of the country.
Published by l’INRAE (l’Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement) it highlights areas that are heavily wooded and which feature many wild animals such as deer and boar.
Popular holiday regions such as here in the Dordogne are areas of high risk, with researchers saying that an increase in the number of animals that carry ticks being a reason behind their spread.
Risk of Lyme disease
If you are bitten then ticks can pass on Lyme disease, the beginning of which is recognisable by a red rash in the shape of a bullseye target, usually with a small bite mark at its centre.
Around 60,000 cases a year of Lyme’s disease are recorded in France, and as more and more people spend leisure time in the woods the chances of crossing ticks and being bitten rise.
At the earliest sign you should visit a local doctor as antibiotic treatment is possible to deal with the flare up, if you leave it real problems can occur and cause highly disabling illness.
Risk of tick-borne encephalitis
In summer 2023, Santé Publique France published its findings into the presence of tick-borne encephalitis, after it gathered together cases of the illness.
It found 30 cases in 2021, 36 in 2022 and 5 so far in 2023, with 94% of cases requiring hospitalisation, although no deaths from the illness were reported when the data was submitted.
Tick-borne encephalitis has an impact on the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), with a one- to two-week incubation period the illness begins suddenly, like influenza, with fever, headache, and chills.
If in any doubt contact a local doctor.
Ticks on cats and dogs
Ticks are also a risk to your dogs and cats, attaching themselves to your pets and risking the development of diseases such as leishmaniasis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and heartworm.
These can prove fatal to your pets so precautions should be taken.
To protect your pets you can use spot-on treatments such as Frontline, and use a small hook to pick out the tick from your pets skin or your own, you can find treatments on Amazon.
Make a habit of looking over your pet for the distinctive tick, there is a larger black variety and a small red coloured one.
How do ticks transmit diseases?
Ticks will attach themselves to humans or animals and feed on the blood after biting their host.
They can transmit pathogens to new hosts and the diseases they pass on are transmitted through their saliva, that’s why it is important not to squeeze the body of a tick when attached to the skin as it will force these body fluids back into its host.
A tick’s ability to spread illnesses and diseases is very good as they can feed on large amounts of blood and increase the chances of absorbing a pathogen.
They can also travel long distances as they attach themselves to humans and animals who then move around.
Ticks also have a long life span, sometimes a few months, and they reproduce in large numbers, ensuring diseases they carry are kept active in the environment.
Tips on protecting yourself
The most common area for the presence of ticks is woodland so if you are out walking with family and friends, or with your dog, then make a habit of looking over your clothes and through your pet’s fur to try and spot any ticks early.
If will also help if you wear light-coloured clothing that shows ticks easily and covers arms and legs. Wear long-sleeved shirts, tight at the wrists, long pants tight at the ankles and tucked into socks, and shoes covering the whole foot.
Apply diethyltoluamide (e.g., DEET) to skin and permethrin to clothing. But do not apply it to clothing while it is being worn, and allow the clothing to thoroughly dry before wearing.
Perform daily checks of skin for ticks. Check children two to three times a day. Check under waistbands, sock tops, under arms, and any other moist areas.
Remove ticks by using toothed hooks like these on Amazon or you should be able to buy them at a chemist or vets.
Slide the teeth of the tool across your skin and around the tick as closely to the skin as possible. Use a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from the skin.
If parts of the tick remain stuck in the skin, they should be removed as soon as possible.
Suffocating the tick with oil, cream etc. may induce injection of more infectious material into the body, so do not use petroleum jelly, burning matches or cigarette ends, nail polish or other products.
You can also learn more about another problem this time due to the Tiger mosquito and view a warning map for France.
Last Updated on 31 July, 2023.