The amount of pollen in the air can help predict the number of cases of tick-borne encephalitis (Tbe), the viral infectious disease caused by a virus transmitted by the bite of infected ticks. To say this is a research from thirty, conducted by the Edumund Mach Foundation (Fem).
According to the study, the amount of pollen from some tree species, in particular beech, hornbeam and oak, recorded over the course of a certain year by the aerobiological monitoring stations, is linked to the Tbe cases observed two years later. Since the quantities of pollen recorded during 2020 were very high, 2022 could prove to be a year with particularly intense circulation of the virus.
What the study says
The amount of pollen in the air is an indicator of the production of seeds by plants, which are in turn a very important food for some wild rodents common in the Trentino woods, such as the yellow-necked wild mouse or the reddish vole. The latter are animal vectors of the virus. When this resource is abundant, wild rodent populations show a significant demographic peak the following year, which in turn amplifies the circulation of pathogens between the juvenile tick stages.
The presence of these mites in the Trentino woods has been recorded as early as March, while the peak of diffusion is expected between the end of May and the first half of June. It is a species widespread in all forest environments, from the valley floor up to 1,200 meters above sea level and which can transmit diseases such as viral encephalitis, Lyme disease and rickettsiosis.
Prevention is possible
Preventing tick bites is the most efficient weapon in controlling these diseases. The skin and clothing control after an excursion or a walk in highly concentrated environments is fundamental.
Also of help are the risk maps created by the Fem starting from the monitoring carried out both in the environments of spread of the tick, and on other animals that are vectors of the virus such as wild rodents. The maps are also based on data obtained from molecular screening aimed at verifying the prevalence of infection of specific pathogens in ticks.
Who can get vaccinated
Cyclically, then, Apss organizes vaccination sessions against the TB virus, a disease initially similar to the flu that can heal without problems, but which can also evolve into a more serious form such as meningitis or encephalitis. In some cases it can leave permanent damage to the nervous system.
The TB vaccine is intended for adults and children from the first year of age and is recommended for those who carry out outdoor activities for professional or recreational-recreational reasons. Vaccination is free for residents of the province of Trento. The vaccination cycle is of three doses.