France has launched a new tracker that aims to make it easier to see the areas in France where people are most likely to report tick bites.
Ticks can be dangerous as they can spread diseases like Lyme.
The tracker comes from CiTIQUE, a participative research programme that was launched by public agriculture and food research institute INRAE in 2017, to better understand ticks’ behaviour and the diseases they may carry in France.
People living in France have been encouraged to report any tick bites to CiTIQUE, whether to humans or animals. Researchers have even invited people to send the offending tick to them by post, so they can compile more detailed data.
Overall, from January 2017 to April 2023, the CiTIQUE programme received:
72,141 reports of tick bites (61,220 on humans, and 10,921 on animals)
Of these, 32,286 were men, 28,250 were women, and 11,605 did not specify their gender
22,944 letters received, some of which included ticks
6,069 reports of dogs being bitten, 3,727 cats, and 1,125 other animals
The full results of the tracker have now been published online here. The map shows each region of France (e.g. Brittany, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Grand Est…). Hovering over each region reveals the number of reports for that region, as well as the breakdown of bites on humans and animals.
The map divides France by region and shows the number of tick bite reports. There are also pie charts showing the age of the person bitten, the environment they were in, and what they were doing
Photo credit: Ci-tique-tracker
Where were the most bites reported?
The Grand Est region has reported the greatest number of bites, closely followed by Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Ile-de-France.
The lowest number of reports came from Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur and Corsica.
In order of the number of bites, the regions are:
Grand Est: 11,556 bites reported
Centre-Val de Loire: 2,474
Pays de la Loire: 1,926
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur: 1,041
Bites: Where, doing what, and how old?
The tracker also has options down the left-hand sidebar, which lets you see:
The environment where the tick bite happened
The activity the person or animal was doing when they were bitten
The age of the person or animal when bitten
The date of the bite
Most tick bites happened in forest environments (46%), followed by family spaces (31%), and fields (13%). Just 10% of bites happened elsewhere.
Activities-wise, the majority (54%) were bitten while taking part in “leisure activities”, while 38% were bitten at home. Just 6% were bitten while taking part in professional activities.
Age-wise, there is a spike of bites among people aged five to 10, with another peak for people aged 30 to 40. This could partly be a result of families with small children taking part in activities outdoors.
How can I avoid tick bites in France?
Use an anti-tick spray
Wear long, light-coloured clothing to cover excess skin and allow you to see ticks if they appear
Make sure children wear hats, especially if they are playing in the grass or have their heads near tall bushes and grasses
When you return from outside, wash your clothes at 60C, or tumble dry them for at least an hour, as ticks do not like dry heat
Carefully check your skin, especially in folds of skin or private areas, to check there are no ticks
Check the fur or skin of pets too, as they can become tick ‘hosts’ and bring them indoors
What if I think I have been bitten?
If you do suspect or know you have been bitten, you are advised to:
Pull the tick ‘head’ out with tweezers, taking care to remove it in one quick movement, without crushing its body or head
Check the tick bite area of your skin and stay alert to your general health and any symptoms over the next month; tick bites that cause Lyme can often lead to a ‘bull’s eye’ red ring around the bite
Ask a health professional to remove the tick as soon as possible if you are not able to remove it yourself
Request preventative antibiotic treatment against Lyme disease within the next 24-48 hours, from your nearest doctor or health professional, to avoid developing the disease long-term.