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Preventing tick-borne diseases

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Devin Boyer
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
In Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, more than 2,000 cases of Lyme disease occur every year; and from 2000 to 2010, 3,126 cases of tick-borne Encephalitis occurred in all of Germany.

Lyme disease and TBE are infectious diseases transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected tick. Bacteria from the tick’s saliva enters the body while the tick feeds on blood. In addition to ticks, people acquire TBE by consuming infected raw dairy products from cows, sheep, and goats.

“With it being the summer months, people are doing more outdoor activities so it’s important for people to be aware that there are diseases that they can pick up from ticks,” said Staff Sgt. Maria Rodriguez, 86th Aerospace Medicine Squadron epidemiology NCO in charge.

Early signs and symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash that resembles a “bull’s eye” which may feel warm to the touch. TBE symptoms may include fever, discomfort, anorexia, muscle aches, headache, nausea and vomiting.

While it is important to know how to identify the symptoms after contracting the diseases, preventing them is ideal.

Airman 1st Class Courtney Morton, 86th Medical Squadron public health technician, said to use repellent containing 20 percent diethyltoluamide, commonly known as DEET, to ward off ticks.

Due to the nature of summer, many people will likely go on hikes and camp in the woods. Individuals who partake in these activities should frequently examine their body, clothes and gear for ticks. Pets can also bring ticks indoors from the outside when people least expect it. So it is important to check them for their safety and the pet owners as well.

“If you’re hiking, make sure you walk in the center of the trail, not so much near the tall grass and bushes,” said Morton.

According to, ticks do not jump or drop from trees onto people’s heads. If a tick is found on the head, it most likely latched onto the foot or leg and crawled up from there.

The public health team said if a tick is found on your body, it needs to be removed immediately. First, with fine tipped tweezers, grasp the mouth part of the tick, as close to the skin as possible. Then, pull back slowly and steadily with firm force. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the jaws to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove them with tweezers.

If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal. Finally, dispose of the live tick by submersing it in alcohol and placing it in a sealed bag or container. Never crush a tick with your fingers. If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see a doctor. Be sure to tell them about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely came into contact with the tick.

Ramstein Public Health sends tick specimens through the Human Tick Test Kit Program to the Army Public Health Center for testing and identification. Individuals interested in getting a tick tested for diseases can bring the tick specimen to Public Health at the Ramstein Clinic, building 2114.

For more information on Lyme Disease or any other disease go to or call Public Health at DSN 479-2086 or commercial 06371-46-2086.