Ticks can be carriers of various pathogens that can be transmitted to humans via a bite. A large number of factors, such as climate, land use and human behavior, influence the chance of being bitten by a tick. In order to map the risk of tick bites in Belgium, we set up TekenNet/TiquesNet/ZeckenNet in June 2015. You can report a tick bite via a website or an (android or iOS) app. In this way, we monitor the exposure of the Belgian population to tick bites in time and space.
With this project, we monitor the exposure of the Belgian population to tick bites in time and space. We want to use the results to help prevent tick bites and tick-borne infections. Everyone can register tick bites they have contracted themselves via a website or via an app for mobile phones (for Android and iOS), which allows GPS coding of the location. We display the reported bites on a map of Belgium so as to provide more accurate information about where and when ticks are active in our country. Furthermore, there is also information available on both channels about Lyme borreliose and how best to avoid being bitten by ticks.
The tick bites reported are monitored in two different ways. On the one hand, anyone can report tick bites on people (him/herself, someone else or a group) anonymously. Although this anonymous monitoring is very informative, it also displays variation depending on the media’s attention to ticks. For this reason, there is also a permanent group of registered users who have to report each month (no bites or the number of bites contracted). This enables us to establish a reliable base curve. In addition to reports of tick bites, this permanent user group can also report the occurence of erythema migrans (a red expanding rash at the place of the bite, the most common clinical manifestation of Lyme borreliosis).
The dynamic map of tick bites in Belgium is available via the project website. There you can also find a results page on which we publish more detailed results. Over the next few years, we will further expand these results to risk maps and models for specific use in the prevention policy.
In addition to the ongoing monitoring of tick bites, we are also launching temporary projects on the existing TekenNet/TiquesNet/ZeckenNet platform. During the 2017 tick season, for example, we collected ticks that were removed from people to examine them for the presence of pathogens causing tick-borne diseases in our country.