At the start of the “Tick Week”, the Netherlands National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and Wageningen University are commencing a large-scale study to discover whether preventive use of antibiotics can stop Lyme disease developing after a tick bite. Of the more than 3400 ticks that were sent to RIVM via Tekenradar.nl (Tick radar) last year, more than 20% turned out to be infected with the Borrelia bacteria which can cause Lyme disease. Around 3% of the people bitten by ticks developed Lyme disease.
It is not yet clear to what extent the advantages of preventive antibiotic therapy (possibly less Lyme disease cases) outweigh the disadvantages (side effects of and increased resistance to antibiotics). That is the reason for asking people, who register a tick bite on Tekenradar.nl and send the tick to the RIVM, to take part in this research. The participants will be divided into two groups. One group will be asked – provided the family doctor agrees – to take a single dose of antibiotics within three days of removing the tick. The other group should not take antibiotics. The research is expected to last four years.
Annually between 20,000 and 30,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in The Netherlands, over 130 cases per 100,000 persons per year.