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Spring Marks Onset of Dangerous Tick Season

Tick (Ixodes ricinus)
Tick (Ixodes ricinus) Source: Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The arrival of spring means that tick season has returned to Estonia, and figures show that the disease-carrying pests are posing an increasing risk to the country's health.

Ticks are at their most bloodthirsty in April and May, becoming active when nighttime soil temperatures reach five to seven degrees Celsius, Postimees wrote.

Last year the Health Protection Inspectorate recorded as many as 201 cases of tick-borne encephalitis, one of the serious illnesses that their bites can cause, compared to 80 cases in 2008.

There is no cure for the disease, which can cause neurological damage and, in some cases, death.

An effective vaccination involving a course of three injections is available, though a lot of residents may be reluctant to obtain it. At 90 euros, the treatment is prohibitively expensive for many and is not covered under the national health insurance system. 

The biggest danger zones for tick-borne encephalitis are the areas around Tartu and Pärnu, the northeast of the country and the northern coast.

The ticks also carry borreliosis, or Lyme disease, which infected 1,721 people last year across the nation.


Steve Roman

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