Like in all boreal forest-y places, Sweden has a lot of ticks in the summer. They also carry disease, including the dreaded Lyme disease. If you remove ticks quickly, then they won’t have time to transfer the Lyme-causing bacteria to you. But, this means you have to find them, which means you have to really take a look after finishing your outdoor time. If you are camping, you need to build in some Tick-finding time. If you find one had bitten you, you are supposed to keep it in a bag (write the date on the bag) and bring it to the doctor with you if you get any symptoms. the BC CDC has a great website with tick-related health information.
Here is a fun tick-and-lyme video:
The other disease carried by ticks here in Sweden is Tick-borne Encephalitis (TBE). It is viral, and the tick doesn’t need to be attached for very long to give it to you. This is a pretty serious illness, starting out with flu-like symptoms and ending up with neurological symptoms stemming from meningitis and encephalitis. Seems worth avoiding, and luckily there is a vaccine series available for it. Kind of like Hepatitis shots, you get 2 shots one month apart, and then a booster 1 year later. This is not part of standard preventative healthcare, it is considered an ‘extra’ so one needs to pay for it themselves (if you have an outdoor job, your employer would likely pay, but since I work in an office it is on me). Why did we never get the chance to get this in Canada!?? It turns out that the TBE virus is not endemic to Canada, so the risk of getting it from a Canadian tick is nil. Note that Lyme is still a BFD in Canada, so check yourself out after a picnic or walk in the woods or tall grass.
Since there are so many people needing multiple shots, the efficient way is to send out the ‘tick bus’ or fästingbussen. The local paper advertises when the tick bus will be at the grocery store parking lot or public park, and you can go down and get your shot. You can track the location of all the tick buses on the web, and head for the one nearest you. You can sign up for a reminder text message when you are due for the next shot.
We meant to do this whole process when the whether got warmer and the ticks came out (coincidentally when the Tick buses started circulating), but you are not supposed to get your TBE vaccination too close to some other kinds of vaccinations, including Corona vaccine. Since we thought Corona was more important, we waited for the ‘any day now’ announcement that our age group was eligible. Ten days after that, we rode our bikes over to the closest tick bus and rolled up our sleeves! The tick bus itself is kind of like Nana and Pop’s converted econoline camper van, with front seats that turn around to face the back, and a counter and lab/kitchen. The staff were great, and I even navigated my appointment in Swedish. I got seasonal flu shots from 2009-2019, with the Swine flu bonus in 2009. After getting none in 2020, I seem to be on a roll again. I noticed the 1st TBE shot hurt more for longer than the 1st Corona shot; we’ll see you the follow-ups go.