Researchers Want Your Ticks - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Researchers Want Your Ticks

Published June 15, 2016

Photos by
AlfriedH/Wikimedia Commons

Researchers want to get a clearer picture of the spread and population density of ticks in Iceland, and they need your help.

Vísir reports that The Icelandic Institute of Natural History (IINH) and the University of Iceland pathology research centre have begun research on how far ticks have spread in Iceland, and how many of them there are.

Part of this research includes a broad request to the country’s veterinarians, health care workers, and the general public to keep any ticks found on pets or people. The insect, along with pertinent information such as where the tick was found, the host, and where the host had been in the past week, can then be sent directly to researchers.

Ticks are not native to Iceland, but they have flourished since their arrival years ago. In 2014 their numbers had reached “endemic” proportions.

While it is true that ticks can carry Borrelia bacteria, which causes Lyme disease, there are no reported cases of anyone catching Lyme disease in Iceland. However, Icelanders have sometimes contracted the disease abroad and brought it home.

The Directorate of Health advises that, if venturing into tick-risk areas, a person should cover their skin as much as they can, using common bug repellent on exposed parts of the skin. Upon returning, it is advised to fully inspect yourself for ticks.

If a tick is found, the directorate says, the safest way to remove it is with a pair of tweezers. Taking hold of the tick just under the mouth, pull the insect straight out of the skin. Avoid grasping the tick farther up or twisting it out, as this could cause the insect to vomit into the wound it has made and spread disease. Lyme Disease is not spread if the tick is removed within 24 hours.


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