SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

HEALTH

What you need to know about ticks in Denmark and how to avoid them

Thousands of people in Denmark are bitten by ticks each year, especially during the summer months. Although most people are left unaffected, an estimated three thousand cases a year in Denmark turn into Lyme disease.

What you need to know about ticks in Denmark and how to avoid them
You should be especially careful of ticks when spending lots of time in woodland, such as when camping or hiking. Photo by Bertrand Guay/ AFP

The humid and warm weather Denmark has experienced so far this year could make ticks even more common than usual this summer, an official said.

Ticks (skovflåter) can be found all over Denmark in forests, meadows, and long grass. They are particularly active during the summer months and increase in number if the weather has been warm and humid. So if you’re hiking, camping or berry-picking this summer, there’s a risk of getting a tick bite (skovflåtbid).

What are ticks?

Ticks are small, spider-like creatures which vary in size, usually between 1mm to 1cm long. They do not fly or jump but climb on to animals or humans as they brush past. Once a tick bites into the skin, it feeds on blood for a few days before dropping off. In Denmark, ticks are often found on rodents or deer and they are particularly prevalent between May and October. 

Lyme Disease (Borreliose

In Denmark, the most common disease ticks transmit is Lyme disease and around 15 per cent of ticks in Denmark’s forests carry this.

It is not known exactly how many people in Denmark get Lyme disease every year, but it is estimated that there are a few thousand cases.

However this is a very small percentage of those who have been bitten by a tick. Broadcaster TV2 has reported that in 98 per cent of cases, people do not get ill from a tick bite.

“If you remove the tick within 24 hours, you most likely won’t get Lyme disease, as it takes longer than this for the bacteria, called borrelia, to transfer to the bloodstream,” Peter Andersen, senior medical officer at the State Serum Institute’s Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Prevention department, told The Local.

Andersen said that humid and warm weather in Denmark so far this year has caused a high number of ticks.

For those who do develop Lyme disease, the symptoms usually appear between two and six weeks after the bite, but sometimes longer.

Some people can get flu-like symptoms a few days or weeks after being bitten by an infected tick. Children may complain of stomach ache, lose their appetite or lack energy.

But the most obvious sign of Lyme disease is a red circular rash around the bite.

“If you’ve had a tick bite, observe the area to check you don’t get a circular rash, which can indicate you’ve been infected. If this happens, contact a doctor to get treatment. Most infections will be treated with penicillin,” Andersen said, adding that treating Lyme disease is straight forward.

“But the danger is if you don’t acknowledge the rash, then the disease can spread to the nervous system,” Andersen warned.

This is called neuroborreliosis and occurs in around one in ten of of Lyme disease cases.

The symptoms of neuroborreliosis typically appear as headaches and neck or back stiffness and radiating nerve pain or muscle paralysis, typically in the face.

People with neuroborreliosis need to be treated in hospital.

There were 216 cases of neuroborreliosis in Denmark last year, according to the State Serum Institute, the country’s infectious disease control agency. That’s an increase from 197 cases in 2020 and 171 cases in 2019.

Most cases each year are detected between July and September and neuroborreliosis most frequently occurs in children aged 5-10 and adults aged 60-70.

TBE – Tick-borne encephalitis (flåtbåren hjernebetændelse)

This is more rare and is a viral brain infection caused by a particular tick bite. Flu-like symptoms can occur a week or more after the bite and can develop to include nausea, dizziness, and in around a third of cases, severe problems. 

In Denmark, TBE cases tend to only occur on Baltic Sea island Bornholm, where there are around 3 cases a year. There have been two reported cases in North Zealand in 2008 and 2009.

In Denmark, a TBE vaccination is recommended for people who travel regularly in areas with TBE. There isn’t a vaccination for Lyme disease.

What if I get bitten by a tick?

If you do find a tick, you should remove it quickly with a special tick remover (available at all pharmacies), tweezers or your nail. The sooner you can do this, the lower the risk the tick will be able to infect you.

The important thing is making sure you remove the whole tick, by grabbing it as close to the skin as possible and pulling slowly. Then wash and clean the bite, and contact a doctor if you’re worried.

Prevention

If you’ll be spending time in wooded areas with long grass, especially those known to have a high tick presence, you should wear boots along with long sleeved light clothing so you can see the ticks, and tuck trousers into socks. Mosquito repellent has also been proven to help deter ticks.

“Proper clothing is a good prevention but it’s not always realistic to wear long sleeves and trousers when it’s warm. So if you have been outside in nature, you should check yourself in the evening or get a family member to check you for ticks,” Andersen suggested to The Local.

Ticks tend to bite around thin areas of the skin such as kneecaps, groin, armpits and hairline. In children, they can often be found on their scalp and behind the ears.

“Ticks are very small and look like a tiny dot so they can be easily missed. They start to enlarge when they suck blood and then the red rash can appear,” Andersen said. 

Despite their high presence, ticks shouldn’t put you off enjoying Denmark’s nature this summer; keeping vigilant to the tiny black insects should keep any tick-related illness at bay.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

HEALTH

Danish LGBT+ group welcomes monkeypox vaccination decision

A Danish LGBT+ rights group says that a decision by the country’s health authority to offer monkeypox vaccinations to all men who have sex with men, and have multiple sexual partners, is ‘what we have asked for’.

Danish LGBT+ group welcomes monkeypox vaccination decision

Denmark will now offer monkeypox vaccinations to all men who have sex with men and have multiple sexual partners, the Danish Health Authority said on Tuesday.

Previously, the shots were only given to people who had been in close contact with a confirmed case.

Anyone can get monkeypox from close contact, not just men who have sex with men. However, high numbers of cases have been recorded in that group, in Denmark as well as internationally.

READ ALSO: Monkeypox: Denmark to offer vaccination to at-risk group

The head of secretariat with association LGBT+ Denmark, Susanne Branner Jespersen, told broadcaster DR the organisation was “pleased” that health authorities have broadened the segment to which vaccinations are offered.

“This is what we have asked for, so we can only be satisfied that they are now coming out with a vaccination strategy which fits with the needs we are seeing,” Jespersen said.

“Being vaccinated does not set aside the general guidelines which have come out, but it will give a higher degree of security,” she said.

The organisation last week called for the Danish Health Authority to offer the monkeypox vaccine to men who have sex with men.

That request has now been met. The vaccine is given as two injections at a 28-day interval.

The health authority is in dialogue with regional health providers and hospitals regarding how the vaccination effort will be coordinated and expects to begin vaccinations by the end of this week, new wire Ritzau reported.

The vice director of the Danish Health Authority, Helene Probst, DR on Tuesday that people in risk groups show be “extra aware” of symptoms, with case numbers currently increasing.

“Vaccination is one part of a strategy with several elements, but it is also important to be aware of symptoms,” Probst told DR.

Typical symptoms of Monkeypox are similar to those most experience with influenza.

Additional symptoms can include a rash in the groin area, itching and discomfort, and blisters in the mouth or on hands. Should these symptoms present, the sufferer should contact their doctor, be tested for monkeypox and avoid close contact with others.

The disease can be passed on to others once symptoms are present.

Latest data from the State Serum Institute (SSI), the national infectious disease agency, show that 126 people in Denmark have contracted monkeypox since the first case was detected in the country in late May.

SHOW COMMENTS