Dangerous ticks can be picked up from a number of places across Spain, including popular tourist traps such as beaches and even swimming pools. Health experts urge locals and visitors to “stay alert” and be aware of the dangers.
“The tick population in Spain is constantly increasing, a growth due to the gradual increase in temperatures, which means that these parasites are active for more than months.
“They mostly live in fields, in areas with vegetation and animals but also in parks, gardens, swimming pools and even on the beach.”
ANECPLA says vets and doctors across Spain have reported a massive increase in the number of tick-related cases in their practices.
ANECPLA Director General Milagros Fernández de Lezeta warned: “Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever is endemic in Africa. Until 2013, our country was free from this disease.
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“However, that year the first case was diagnosed in Spain and since then up to nine affected people have been counted, three of whom have died as a result of a tick bite.”
The association says it is imperative that urgent action be taken by individual health authorities, local councils and the people themselves.
“It is important that citizens are aware of the risks that may arise,” warns the Director General.
“This summer, the risk is not only in the countryside but in an environment that we frequent so much now on vacation [including by] the beach or the pool.
Symptoms of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever appear suddenly, in the form of fever, muscle pain, dizziness, neck pain and stiffness, lumbago, headache, eye irritation and photophobia (hypersensitivity to light).
It can also cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and a sore throat at first, followed by sudden mood swings and confusion.
After two to four days, people with the condition may become drowsy, depressed, and weak.
Other possible clinical signs are an increased heart rate and swollen lymph nodes.
“The death rate associated with this disease is about 30 percent, and death ensues in the second week,” the association says.
“In recovering patients, improvement usually begins on the ninth or tenth day after disease onset.
Additional reporting by Rita Sobot.