With good weather, ticks are making their comeback in parks, gardens and forests. But beware, some of them carry the bacteria called Borrelia and can cause serious chronic conditions like Lyme disease. LCI lists the symptoms that should prompt you to consult immediately.

You looked forward to the return of spring to enjoy green spaces? Distrust, tick too! Hidden in the tall grass of the gardens, the bushes of the parks or in the woods, the little beast can cling during your passage. But if it carries Borrelia bacteria, it can transmit it to you by feeding on your blood.

Contamination that can have serious consequences and cause Lyme disease if adequate treatment is not given quickly. In 2015, the Sentinelles network recorded 33,202 new cases in France. A figure that would be largely undervalued according to the France Lyme association which estimates it three times higher.

Without falling into psychosis, Professor Christian Perronne, head of the infectious disease department at the Raymond-PoincarrĂ© University Hospital in Garches and author of the book The Truth on Lyme Disease, (Odile Jacob, 2017), points out that some People “can eliminate the bacteria naturally through their immune system.” For others, here are the signs that must evoke the disease.


First, a red plate appears (but not always)

Also called erythema migrans, a red plaque can form around the bite and spread little by little until it reaches 5 to 15 cm in diameter. Pr Perronne is formal: “Erythema migrans should always be reminiscent of Lyme disease. On the other hand, its absence does not exclude the disease. Because often it is not painful and itchy, it can quickly escape our vigilance, if it is in the back for example. The skin lesion usually disappears of itself after one month even without treatment. But the bacteria Borrelia, it is still in the body.

Only 20% of patients recover from Lyme disease Professor Christian Perronne

Then come joint and muscle pain

If no antibiotic is given, the bacterium spreads: this is the spread of the bacteria. The patient then enters the second phase of the disease. After a few weeks or a few months, depending on the case, articular and muscular pains of varying intensity appear in different parts of the body. “The peculiarity of Lyme disease is that the joints swell, the symptoms disappear for a time and reappear,” says Professor Benoit Jaulhac, head of bacteriology at Strasbourg University Hospital.

See also: Tick and Lyme disease: a map of the most concerned departments

Then, the neurological symptoms

Likewise, the bacteria can gain the nervous system. “After a tick bite, there are neurological manifestations whose onset of facial paralysis, sometimes serious, details Pr Perronne.

A link with some meningitis has even been shown. From headaches to the disorder of walking, the manifestations are numerous. But an accumulation of symptoms must be reminiscent of Lyme disease. “In sciatica, the patient does not have a headache,” says Professor Jaulhac. If it evokes this type of pain in addition to those of the leg, the disease can be suspected. “

Cardiac manifestations, disturbances of vision … the other symptoms

The body reacts in different ways to toxins released by bacteria. A few weeks after the sting, heart problems (tachycardia), ocular (blurred vision) or skin lesions (redness, skin hardens) may appear.

After six months without receiving treatment, the disease becomes chronic and symptoms develop over time. “Only 20% of patients recover quickly from Lyme disease. Others may experience late healings or improvements through treatment but often suffer from sequelae, “says Pr Perronne. However, if the diagnosis is made early enough, a course of antibiotics can overcome the bacteria.

Note : the national plan to fight against Lyme disease and tick-borne diseases, unveiled by the Ministry of Health in September 2016, provides for the establishment of specialized care centers in each region.

Ticks are fond of wetlands and woodlands . “We observe an expansion of ixodes ricinus (the species that transmits Lyme disease, Ed) to northern Europe. It is found everywhere in France, including at high altitudes and in the Mediterranean hinterland, “explains Muriel Vayssier-Taussat. It is linked to environmental changes and the proliferation of wildlife on which ticks feed.