Ticks and public healthcare…

One of the new nasty things about summers in Finland are the ticks that have started to infest the taller grasses. They are tiny creatures that hang on to high grass and wait for the leg of an animal or a human to latch on to…

They then sink their tiny sharp teeth into your skin and start to suck up the blood. Their appetite is voracious and their body swells and swells to the size of an apple pip. The itching is awful – it starts to itch after they have drawn the first blood…

… and they are hard to see because of their size – they also like to creep up your leg and find a nice quiet spot that requires a mirror or an intimate colleague to find!

Once they are “dug in” you can only remove them safely with a pair of tweezers or with a specially designed piece of plastic that will prise them away from your skin without leaving a piece of their jaws inside their bite. If you do not do not carefully, the bite will become infected with Lyme disease, with flu-like symptoms caused by bacteria. The treatment requires antibiotics… 

The other nasty thing about them is that you can also become ill with meningitis, or tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) as some people call it. That is a really dangerous disease and one that you can be protected against with a vaccine… a vaccine that only the Trumps of this world would not have…

… and that is what your correspondent happened upon the other week after visiting Seeli Island, near Turku. The island was once a remote leper colony that started a thriving in the 1700s, and later became an isolated mental hospital for hospital for women… It appears that many of the women were just too boisterous and moody and were not really mental patients according to today’s norms…  its was closed down in 1964.

Since then it has become a scientific spot for the University of Turku for studying small wildlife, of which ticks are included with a passion. We saw student groups with huge nets and sheets gathering specimens in the fields of long grass.

In fact the interesting thing about the university here is that the island is the first place in the world to discover that there is a natural enemy to ticks to be found on the island! Here is a picture of the little bugger’s enemy:

However, I ended up being bitten by a tick that had escaped the jaws of the killer fly.

I ended up 10 days later with a swelling red patch on my butt which had to be shown to the doctor. That was no problem since we have excellent healthcare. A ingle phone call to check that I was not Corona infected and then I was given a digital healthcare centre i-note instruct ting a doctor that I would be arriving soon.

One hour later, after a boat ride and a short car trip I arrived, met the doctor for 15 minutes, and then stopped at the chemists to pick up the antibiotic.

Such is life on a bright summer’s Saturday in Finland, 100 km west of Helsinki, and 5 km out in the sea!

Pictures: Turku University and Wikipedia

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