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Return of the ticks!


Although ticks live all year round, they are most active between March and November. They are mostly found in damp, wooded areas and grassy fields, either in the long grass or on plants that are close to the ground.

On human bodies, they like warm, moist areas where the skin is thin, like behind the ears, around the neck, under the armpits, on the navel, in the groin, behind the knees or on the inner thighs.

Their bite can transmit various infectious agents, the most common of which are listed below.

Every year in Switzerland, around 10 000 people contract Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis) from a tick bite. The first sign of this disease is generally redness around the bite. It must be treated with antibiotics.

You can find out more about Lyme disease in Switzerland here and in France here: Lyme borreliosis: 2019 epidemiological data (santepubliquefrance.fr) (in French).

Meningoencephalitis is rarer than Lyme disease. The first stage of the disease is characterised by flu-like symptoms. This is followed by an asymptomatic stage, before meningitis-like symptoms appear. A preventive vaccine exists – it is not compulsory but it is recommended by the Federal public health authorities for anyone over the age of six living or staying in Switzerland (except in the cantons of Geneva and Ticino, which are less affected by the disease).

You can find out more about meningoencephalitis in Switzerland here and in France here: Tick-borne encephalitis – Vaccination Info Service (vaccination-info-service.fr) (in French).

How to protect yourself against ticks:

  • Cover up: wear a long-sleeved top, trousers, long socks and closed-toe shoes. Choose light-coloured clothes, as ticks will be more visible on them.
  • Spray your clothes, shoes and skin with tick-repellent spray (available in pharmacies).
  • Examine your body whenever you might have been exposed to ticks (after a walk in the woods, a picnic on the grass, etc.).

If you’ve been bitten by a tick, how do you remove it?

  1. Use a tick-removal tool or card or fine-tipped tweezers.
  2. Grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible without squeezing the tick.
  3. Do not rotate the tool but pull outwards with steady, even pressure.
  4. Disinfect the skin on and around the bite.
  5. Keep an eye on the bite area for around six weeks.

If you are worried about a tick bite or if you have flu-like or unusual symptoms after being bitten by a tick, see your GP or consult a pharmacist.

The CERN Medical Service is also available to answer any questions: Medical.Service@cern.ch