The good weather is back, the desire to go in the forest and in the fields too. In the tall grass, ticks are there, and expect to feed on the blood of living beings, humans or animals. The Regional Health Agency is launching an awareness campaign this Saturday, in particular through leaflets distributed within hikers’ clubs and tourist offices.
Ticks everywhere, but below 1,500 m altitude
The Regional Health Agency estimates that 5 to 20% of ticks are infected, and can lead to Lyme disease. In France, between 20 and 25,000 cases each year are listed. Savoie and Haute-Savoie are not the most affected French departments. Question of temperatures. “The tick is rarely found above 1,500 meters above sea level, which limits its presence in certain areas of the region” explains Gilles Bidet, environmental health engineer at ARS Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, “there are still, less than elsewhere, but with global warming, their presence is likely to increase”.
The idea is that you can catch a tick in the forest. “Ticks are everywhere, where you can find tall grass, trees and hedges. Ticks are also found in urban areas, so do not forget parks and gardens” warns Gilles Bidet. Pruning and mowing, however, limit their presence in cities.
Lyme, and other diseases
Lyme disease is far from the only disease carried by ticks. Example: tick-borne encephalitis, better known on the other side of the border, in Switzerland. Some cantons are particularly affected, and the Swiss are also vaccinated. “These encephalitis are relatively rare for the moment on our territory, but as the Swiss border is not very far …” recalls Doctor Nathalie Grangeret, medical adviser and referent in this field for the ARS. “Most people who contract the virus are either symptom-free or have the flu-like syndrome, but cases get worse and warrant hospitalization, with truly brain damage.” she specifies.