News in English

2019.07.10 12:37

Tick-borne diseases in Lithuania leave life-scarring injuries

Ineta Nedveckė, LRT.lt2019.07.10 12:37

Paralysis, disability or even death can be caused by tick-borne diseases prevalent in Lithuania. Even after surviving encephalitis or Lyme disease caught from a tick, the full recovery period can be long, and symptoms may keep recurring.

Encephalitis affects the brain tissue and peripheral nerves, and according to Doctor Vytautas Usonis from Vilnius University medical faculty, neurological symptoms may also keep recurring.

And as there is no cure against encephalitis, medicines “can only address symptoms” – headaches or fever, for instance, according to Dr Usonis.

While Lyme disease carried by ticks can be treated by antibiotics, the only way to shield against encephalitis is vaccination.

Lithuania’s Viral Diseases and AIds Center (ULAC) says that in the first six months of the year, 90 people were diagnosed with tick-borne encephalitis, which is most commonly found in the Baltic states, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Finland, eaastern shores of Sweden, and southern Germany.

Disease symptoms can be similar to fever, and only around 80 percent of those infected come under two separate waves of symptoms – after initially feeling better, the person can then be bed-ridden again a day or a month later.

According to ULAC, around a third of the people who have previously caught encephalitis suffer from recurring symptoms – inability to concentrate, sleep disorders, constant headaches, increased sensitivity, or behavioral changes.

Restorative healing can then go on for weeks or months – “80 percent of people who will recover fully do so in the first two or three weeks,” said Dr Usonis.

Scientists Selemonas Paltanavičius, said ticks most commonly react to heat signature of people and animals.

However, the popular myth that bright-coloured garments attract more ticks, is unfounded. According to him, ticks don’t care about the clothes you wear.

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