Lyme borreliosis is the most prevalent tick-borne disease throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Because the disease has large socioeconomic consequences, there is an urgent need to further educate the public to stimulate preventive behavior. Unfortunately, risk factors for tick bites are poorly known. In this study, we determined the habitats and activities at risk for tick bites for people of different age categories using reports of Dutch citizens. Most people, 43%, were bitten in the forest, and an unexpected large number of people reported tick bites from their gardens (31%). Hiking, hobby gardening, and playing were the most-mentioned activities during which tick bites were received; people aged from 50 to 69 and children below 10 were bitten most. Different age categories were bitten in different habitats and during different activities. People aged from 0 to 60 reported most tick bites related to visiting a forest and hiking, whereas people older than 60 were mainly bitten in gardens. The percentage of garden and hobby gardening tick bites increased with age, but was also high for children less than 10 years of age. We suggest that these findings should be taken into account for the development of prevention strategies aiming to decrease the number of Lyme borreliosis cases.
- endemic area