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Dossier: Running training

Beware of ticks

Between the months of March and October these pesky parasites are a real plague for runners jogging in the woods and crossing meadows. Here are a few helpful tips to avoid getting bitten.

Ticks love any kind of warmth and humidity, in particular sweat, which is why runners should take some extra precautions when running outdoors:

  • Run in the middle of paths to avoid contact with grass and twigs.
  • Wear long-sleeved tops, knee socks or full-length trousers when running in the woods.
  • Choose bright colours – ticks are easier to spot on a bright background.
  • Use a tick spray

If you’ve been jogging in the woods or have crossed a meadow, check your body for ticks after your shower. These mini bloodsuckers are particularly attracted to your lower legs and thighs, hollows of your knees, groin, inside of your elbows, armpits and genital area. 

How dangerous are tick bites?

How dangerous are tick bites? Medgate, the leading telemedicine centre in Switzerland, says: Now the days are warm, ticks are more active again. You should take precautions to prevent tick bites, because they can transmit diseases. Two common infections in Switzerland are:

  • • TBE (tick-borne encephalitis), a viral infection with flu-like symptoms that can cause inflammation of the brain
  • • Borreliosis, a bacterial infection that can affect the skin, nerves, meninges, spinal cord, joints and heart

How to significantly reduce the chance of being bitten:

  • • wear long-sleeved tops, full-length trousers and closed shoes.
  • • Children in particular should also cover their head and neck.
  • • You should also apply an insect repellent that is effective against ticks.
  • • After spending time outdoors, check your whole body for ticks, particularly your head, neck, armpits, groin, pubic area and behind the knees.

Remove the tick quickly.

In Switzerland, around 1% of ticks carry the TBE virus and between 5% and 30% (in some places up to 50%) borreliosis. There is therefore quite a high risk of falling ill, and quick action is essential. The faster a tick is removed, the lower the risk of transmission.

Use tweezers or a tick card to carefully remove the whole tick without applying liquid (e.g. oil or alcohol) beforehand. Observe the bite area over the next few days. If the skin reddens or you have headaches, sore joints or flu-like symptoms, contact a doctor immediately.

A vaccination in three doses is available against TBE. It is recommended for people who live in high-risk areas. You have the first two vaccinations a month apart and the third five to twelve months later.