Ticks in Germany

Photo by Gabor Tinz / Shutterstock.com

Summer in Germany is a great time of year and everyone has “the bug” (no pun intended) to get outside and enjoy everything that parks, forests, and open-air venues have to offer. Unfortunately, there are nasty bugs looking to hitch rides on you or your pets. These bugs are called “Zecken” (the German word for ticks) and can carry diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and viral diseases.

If you have heard that ticks drop on you from trees, don’t believe it. They don’t drop or jump but actually happen to catch on to your clothes by accident. Since they feed on animals, the fact that they end up on you is only by chance. They are attracted to a difference in CO2 levels and temperature shifts.

Tick saliva contains an anaesthetic, which means a bite may go unnoticed. Ticks will wander around on your body for hours looking for a place to feed, so you should constantly keep an eye out for ticks after you have come inside from the outdoors. They tend to like places like your scalp, groin, underarms, and behind the knees.

Ticks are out as late as August (and sometimes later), so it is never too late to prevent infection from a tick bite. If you are trying to identify a bite, a characteristic bulls-eye skin rash occurs in 80 percent of people. The easiest way to prevent tick bites is to avoid wooded areas, leaf litter, high grass, weeds, and brush. If you can’t avoid these places because you love the outdoors, the following tips may help you defend against exposure.

Photo by Steven Ellingson / Shutterstock.com

Use a repellent containing 20%-30% DEET or 20% Picaridin. Re-apply according to manufacturer’s directions. (As with anything you apply to your skin, you should consult your doctor).

Clothing that is lighter in color will help identify ticks that are hitching rides with you. Long sleeves and pants are recommended.

  • Tuck your pants into socks. (Although this isn’t fashion-forward, it is safer!)
  • Apply repellent to your clothing as well.
  • Stay on the trail when you are in the woods. Venturing off into grassy areas and dead leaves increases exposure as this is where ticks love to live.
  • Don’t sit on the bare ground. Use a blanket or covering.
  • Do a tick check before, during, and after activities outside (this includes Fido).
  • Apply sunscreen first followed by the repellent (preferably 20 minutes later).