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Friday 23.03.2018 | Name days: Mirdza, Žanete, Žanna

Tick encephalitis infection cases increased by one-third in Latvia this year

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUCold November forced ticks to enter hibernation. There is reason to believe tick activity in Latvia has ended for this year, admits entomologist Voldemars Spungis.

«Ticks have prepared their nutrient reserves and have entered the state of hibernation, in which they will remain until spring next year. They will become active again when average air temperature reaches 5° C… 7° C,» – said Spungis.

Nevertheless, it is possible ticks may wake up and become active on particularly warm winter days and bite humans. Last year’s winter was warm. Because of that, the first cases of tick bites were had been recorded by Latvian Infectology Centre as early as January and February.

According to the expert, this year’s summer was beneficial for ticks. Lasting rain showers had no impact on their activity in August. Lasting drought threatens ticks the most, because it kills their offspring.

This year, insects brought an interesting surprise for the insect expert. In Daugavpils, not far from the Latvian-Belarusian border, a new species of ticks called Dermacentor was found. Though common in Europe, this species has appeared in Latvia for the first time. «We have not performed detailed research, but it is possible the appearance of this species in Latvia came as a result of climate change,» – Spungis says.

Tick activity is influenced by global climate change and their physiological cycles, where rises in activity periodically switch with declines.

In total, 220 people caught tick encephalitis over the course from January to October in 2016. This is by one-third more when compared with the same period of 2015, according to data of the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

In October, a total of tick encephalitis infection cases were recorded in Latvia (27 cases in October 2015).

Although residents most actively use vaccination opportunities against tick encephalitis in spring, statistics show that autumn and winter months are also active periods for vaccination. For example, 1,044 tick encephalitis vaccines were administered in November 2015 and 1,099 – in December, according to data from SPKC.

Tick encephalitis, unlike other diseases transmitted by ticks is incurable. The only effective form of protection is vaccination. The traditional vaccination scheme includes three vaccine injections. The second vaccine injection is performed 1-3 months after the first. This provides immunity for a single season. The third injection is performed 6-12 months after the second. To maintain immunity, re-vaccination has to be performed every 3-5 years.


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