Researchers have created a new map to help estimate the risk of tick bites in different regions of France in order to prevent bites and raise awareness of tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease.
The map was developed by the National Institute of Agriculture INRAE and VetAgro Sup, in collaboration with ANSES, Boehringer Ingelheim and CIRAD.
The group analyzed the risk associated with the Ixodes ricinus tick, the main vector of pathogens in France and Europe.
They used data collected through seven observational studies in different climates of mainland France, as well as meteorological data and environmental data (vegetation, soil, etc.).
MAP: Inrae.fr / Geospatial Health Vol.17 n°1
Their findings, published in the scientific journals Geospatial Health and Scientific Reports, enabled the group to develop both a map showing the most common areas of tick presence and activity, and a model to predict the most common times. at risk depending on the seasons and the weather.
The Ixodes ricinus tick is present in most of France. It is the main vector of diseases such as Lyme disease.
Its activity and life cycle depend on many factors, including climate, altitude, land use and human presence.
The team measured each of these factors based on the area and established a “score” for each. It is this score that is represented on the card, in different colors.
The most common habitats for the tick are in red, followed by orange, then lime green. The dark green areas are the least frequent.
The most common areas for ticks are in the central, northeast, and southwest, while the least common habitats are in the Mediterranean and high mountain regions.
This map provides information for regions and municipalities and is intended to help better target prevention messages on tick bites.
Spread of ticks and Lyme
A third of people in France have been bitten by a tick and this figure is increasing, despite the multiplication of awareness campaigns on the dangers of Lyme disease (about 15% of ticks in France carry Lyme).
The French Ministry of Health has launched awareness campaigns about tick bites and Lyme disease since 2016.
Read more: Be aware: Tick bites can cause Lyme disease, survivor says
In February, the health body Santé publique France noted that there had been an increase in the number of reports of Lyme in recent years, which is partly linked to increased awareness in the population, it said. -he declares.
It is estimated that 15% of ticks in France carry Lyme disease; with the majority of cases recorded in the Grand Est, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes and New Aquitaine.
There were 50,133 new cases of Lyme disease reported in mainland France in 2019, according to figures from the CiTIQUE research program. CiTIQUE is an initiative founded in 2017 as part of the national Lyme disease plan.
How can I avoid tick bites?
Use tick spray
Wear long, light-colored clothing to cover excess skin and allow you to see ticks if they appear
Make sure children wear hats, especially if they are playing in the grass or have their heads close to tall bushes and grasses
When you return from outside, wash your clothes at 60°C or tumble dry them for at least an hour, as ticks do not like dry heat.
Check your skin carefully, especially in skin folds or intimate areas, to check for ticks
Also check the fur or skin of pets, as they can become “hosts” of ticks and bring them indoors
Read more: How to avoid Lyme disease-carrying ticks this summer
What if I think I’ve been bitten?
If you suspect or know you have been bitten, you are advised to:
Pull the “head” of the tick with tweezers, taking care to remove it in one quick motion, without crushing its body or head
Check the tick bite area of your skin and stay alert to your general health and any symptoms over the next month; tick bites that cause Lyme disease can often result in a red “bulls-eye” ring around the bite
Ask a healthcare professional to remove the tick as soon as possible if you are unable to remove it yourself
Seek preventive antibiotic treatment for Lyme disease within the next 24 to 48 hours from your doctor or nearest healthcare professional to avoid developing the disease in the long term.
More risk of Lyme disease from ticks in eastern France than in Brittany
Where in France are you most exposed to Lyme disease ticks
Lyme disease: The number of people bitten by a tick on the rise in France