Tick Patrol
HLFS Ursprung 2006
The Hunt
Laboratory Analysis

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  Because of their size, kindergarteners find themselves within the „hunting grounds“ of the ticks.





  And that’s why we were assigned to screen the forest for ticks.





When they learned of the initial results of the tick hunt in the woods around our school the kindergarten in Elixhausen became interested in our project.

This kindergarten orientates itself according to the pedagogical methods of Pastor Sebastian Kneipp; this means that much importance is attached to outdoor recreation.

This is why the children visit a part of the nearby forest at least once a week—in principle a good idea. But the invisible dangers and possible ways of avoiding these dangers are indeed often overlooked. The risk is particularly high for the children who aren’t likely to be thinking of avoiding contact with ticks as they’re playing. Children are especially at risk because of their size. Ticks are found exactly at the level at which children pass through the forest while playing. In the last couple of years the teachers have repeatedly noticed the expanding red rash associated with Lyme disease on children’s skin. This is often not noticed as such or ignored by the parents. To the average person, a red, itchy spot on the skin appears at first glance to be harmless.

Hence our subsequent search of the forest to determine what kind of risk could be facing the children.

We made a map of the forest before the tick activity began to increase due to higher spring temperatures. This step was important for work planned to be done after the laboratory analysis, in which we would determine which areas of the forest showed a high number of ticks and where infected ticks could be found.
When it got warmer our SWAT team made their way into the area of question. They caught and analysed a total of 118 ticks.

The results were as follows:
3 cases - Lyme disease
1 case - tick-borne encephalitis

Unfortunately these results did not come as a surprise. The risk-zones for these diseases are constantly expanding.
These results shouldn’t however spread fear, but rather they should lead to the assurance that risk must be lessened and long-term damages avoided through proper prevention and prompt identification and action.
It is important that citizens deal with this topic. It is for this reason that we made it our goal to provide parents and children with information. We used informational material to increase awareness of our project in order to reach the largest percentage of the population as possible and to invite citizens to the informational event at our school.

There we described the symptoms of Lyme disease and TBE so that visitors would be able to recognise these themselves.

We also presented simple prevention methods such as vaccination, proper clothing, proper temperatures at which to wash clothes, as well as showering after spending time in the forest. It is important to us that parents and children can spend time in our woods without fear. And even if just one single infection was prevented by this informational session, then it was worth it.