Professor Maurizio Ruscio works in Udine

The increase in temperatures is determining, among other changes, also an increase in the presence, throughout the Italian territory and especially in Friuli Venezia Giulia, of ticks. The parasite’s bite is painless but can be a health hazard. During the meal, in fact, various infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, protozoa, etc.) responsible for even complex diseases, sometimes serious and not always easy to recognize, can be transmitted. The most common disease is the Lyme disease. It usually begins with localized redness (erythema migrans) in the bite area. If left untreated, it affects the joints, the nervous system, sometimes involving the eye and heart and other internal organs. It evolves in later stages and can have a persistent course.

The expert

It is in Friuli Venezia Giulia that one of the major Italian experts on the subject operates, Professor Maurizio Ruscio, professor at the University of Trieste, national president of the Italian Group for the Study of Lyme disease (GISLM). Ruscio collaborates with Friuli Coram, a company based in Udine where a brand new diagnostic test is being developed, as confirmed by Alessia Rampino, one of the directors of the company: “The hope is that this new test will be available from the end of August. This is the Interferon gamma dosage for Borrelia, the agent responsible for Lyme disease“This is an innovative test that can be performed exclusively nationwide, which documents the presence of the infectious agent responsible for Lyme disease in tissues.”The usefulness of this test is twofold – says Ruscio -: it is positive at the onset of the infection before traditional serological tests but, in particular, it allows to document the disappearance of Borrelia burgdorferi after antibiotic therapy. This aspect is not negligible as the common serological tests remain positive in post-therapy controls, even after healing, sometimes resulting in the administration of further unnecessary therapies.“.

Other diseases

However, ticks are also responsible for the transmission of other diseases such as TBE (Tick-borne encephalitis) or meningoencephalitis from mint, a severe disease affecting the nervous system and numerous other infections all with feverish onset such as: Anaplasmosis-Erhlichiosis, rickettsiosis, recurrent fever, Mediterranean button fever and other rarer pathologies. For all these diseases, sophisticated molecular investigations are performed in the laboratory capable of detecting any “coinfections” that can be associated with Lyme disease or occur individually. This complex of diseases in addition to Friuli Venezia Giulia, and more generally in the Triveneto, have also become endemic in Lombardy and Piedmont, up to Liguria. Important outbreaks of Lyme disease (and not only) are reported in Emilia-Romagna, in Tuscany, without sparing the regions of central and southern Italy.

Useful tips

It is important to implement small, effective precautions to be used before, during and after a dive in the green. Before leaving, use a clothing that covers as much of the body as possible. During the excursion, walk in the middle of the paths, avoiding contact with uncultivated grass, leaves and bushes. Upon returning, brush your clothes and inspect yourself carefully from head to toe. If, despite the precautions, a tick is found on the skin, it must be removed immediately adequately, write down the date and pay attention to the symptoms that may appear in the following weeks: persistent redness on the skin or fever should not be underestimated. Prompt diagnosis and correct therapy are the best conditions for a complete recovery.

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