The sheep tick (often simply referred to as a “tick”) is part of the hard tick family and lives predominantly on grasses and low shrubbery in mixed forests and wetlands. The females lie in wait there for potential host animals and allow themselves to fall onto said host as a result of a contact stimulus. They firmly clamp onto passing hosts, such as wild animals, pets and humans, and start to draw blood after a while. They prefer to do this on warm and moist areas of the body with thin skin, such as the groin area, the backs of the knees, in hairlines and sometimes behind the ears. Once it has finished its blood meal, the female, which is full of blood (males do not draw blood), falls to the ground.
The intake of blood is necessary for the development of the creatures. Depending on the degree of development and saturation, they can be between 2 and 14 mm long and are yellowish-brown, red-brown or grey-brown in colour.
Tick bites cause swelling and severe itching. If they are not removed correctly, parts of the mouth can remain in the skin and cause inflammation.
Ticks pose a large health risk as vectors of the bacterial infection Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) and the viral infection TBE (tick-borne encephalitis).
If you are staying in areas where there is a risk of ticks, it is advisable to cover as much of your body with clothing as possible. Also, after you have been walking outdoors, check your body for ticks and remove these as quickly as possible.
With tick bites, it is important to pay attention to changes in the skin around the bitten area and consult a doctor if necessary.
If you have been infected with Lyme disease, a circular inflammation is likely to form around the bitten area, which will slowly grow (Erythema migrans, “migrating redness”). However, this reaction can also fail to appear at all.
If you are staying in areas where TBE is widespread, consult a doctor to see whether a preventative vaccination would be advisable.