The number of people in the Netherlands with Lyme’s disease is continuing to rise and the infection total has quadrupled over the past 20 years, according to the public health council, RIVM. Every year, 1.3 million people are bitten by ticks while walking in woods, dunes or even the garden and of this number 25,000 will go on to develop lime disease.
Left untreated symptoms often include unrelenting fatigue, recurring fever, headaches and migraines and achy muscles and joints. In many cases, it starts with a red ring or patch on the skin, but this is not always present. In more severe cases, the illness can completely immobilise a person, causing severe pain, muscle spasms, loss of motor coordination, and even intermittent paralysis, meningitis, and heart problems.
The RIVM and other bodies researching ticks have set up a special monitor in an effort to better understand the Dutch tick population. You can use the monitor to check your symptoms and see where most infected ticks have been found.
To prevent getting bitten
Wear long sleeves, tuck trousers into socks and check your skin and clothing regularly for ticks if you have been in the countryside or dunes.
Try using Deet based products as a repellent
Take a bath or shower within a few hours of returning from outside.
What does a tick look like?
Ticks have 8 legs and range in size from as small as a pin’s head to as large as a pencil eraser.
Different kinds of ticks can range in colour from shades of brown to reddish brown and black.
How to remove a tick
Ticks usually head for warm spots - in the hair, behind the ears, under the arms, the backs of the knees and groin.
If you get bitten by a tick, it is wise to remove it immediately. There are several tools, but health experts suggest using pointed tweezers.
Place the tweezers close to the skin and pull the tick straight out, using steady pressure. Make sure to remove the whole tick. Disinfect the wound afterwards.
If you are at all concerned, for example if you cannot remove the entire tick or the tick has been on the body for some time, visit your local pharmacy or huisarts for a check as you may need a course of antibiotics. It is advisable to take a photo of the tick or bring it with you for identification.