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Ticks in Norway: How to avoid them and protect yourself

Ticks in Norway: How to avoid them and protect yourself
You should be especially careful of ticks when spending lots of time in woodland, such as when camping or hiking. Photo by Erik Karits from Pexels
You know about elk and bears, but in Norway one of the potentially most dangerous creatures is one of the smallest: the tick.

When and where do you find them?

Ticks in Norway can be found mostly in the south-east and along coastal areas in the west, as far north as Bodø. Ticks can also be found further inland too. 

They can be found in forests, meadows, and long grass, meaning the biggest risk is when you’re out in nature – especially hiking, camping, or berry-picking.

Ticks are active when the temperature is higher than around 5C, but are most common during the summer months. Tick season is roughly from April to September in Norway, with most bites occurring in summer.

What diseases can they cause?

In Norway, the two main tick-borne diseases are Lyme disease and Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE).

Lyme disease (also called borreliosis) causes no symptoms in around half of all people who catch it. For others, it can cause skin redness, headaches, and pain, and can attack the nervous system. Symptoms usually appear between two and six weeks after the bite, but can take longer. Around 25 percent of all ticks in Southern Norway are carriers infected with the Borrelia bacteria, according to the The Norwegian National Advisory Unit on Tick-borne Diseases.

TBE is a viral brain infection, which can cause a range of symptoms, usually starting with typical flu-like symptoms and then developing to include nausea, dizziness, and in around a third of cases, severe problems. Symptoms usually appear around a week after the bite, but can take longer. There is no cure, but it can be treated, and there is a vaccination too.

While ticks are found across Norway, ticks carrying TBE, according to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, are mostly concentrated in Rogaland, Vestfold and Telemark, Adger and Viken. Around one percent of ticks in Norway carry TBE. 

TBE cases in Norway since 1995. Source: NIPH

How can I protect myself?

Lyme disease has no vaccine but can be treated, while TBE cannot be cured but both a vaccine and treatments are available.

Because of the risk of Lyme disease, even if you’re up to date on your TBE vaccines, you should still do what you can to prevent ticks.

If you’ll be spending time in wooded areas with long grass, especially those known to have a high tick presence, take precautions like wearing long sleeved clothing and tucking trousers into socks. Try to avoid brushing against long grasses by walking along the middle of the path where you can.

After returning home from a day out, you should check carefully for ticks and shower shortly after coming inside. This can give you the chance to remove them before they bite, for example if you spot them on your clothes. Putting clothes in a tumble dryer for one hour should kill ticks.

What if I get bitten?

If you do get a tick, you should remove it safely. The sooner you can do this, the lower the risk that it will be able to infect you with Lyme disease as it can take up to 24 hours for the bacteria to be transferred.

It can be done with a special tick remover (which you should be able to buy at most Norwegian pharmacies) or tweezers. The important thing is making sure you remove the whole tick, by grabbing it as close to the skin as possible and pulling slowly. Then, wash and clean the bite, and contact a doctor if you’re worried, especially if you experience symptoms of illness in the weeks after being bitten.

Below you can watch a video from the Norwegian Institute of Health on how to remove a tick. 

How can I get a TBE vaccine?

Vaccinations are recommended for those living in areas with TBE-infested ticks, and/or who spend a lot of time out in forests.

You get three doses within the first year, each one increasing the level of protection, another dose after three years and then will need top-ups every five years, every three years if you are over 60.

Because you need several doses to be fully protected, it’s recommended that you begin the vaccination programme well ahead of tick season. It’s also worth noting that its advisable to receive the third dose before the next tick season begins if you receive your jabs mid tick season. 

In order to find out more about how to get a TBE vaccine you will need to contact your local doctor in the municipality you live in 

Norwegian vocabulary

tick – flått

lyme disease – borreliosis

tick remover – flåttplukkere

vaccine – vaksine   


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