To spread knowledge about ticks, Åland Post spotlights the research in Åland into tick-borne diseases with an issue on 6 September. Tick-borne diseases are increasing worldwide, and Åland has one of the highest incidences of infections. Åland researchers have made important contributions to this field of research and developed much of the diagnostics used today. Åland illustrator Peter Bergström took on the task to illustrate the stamp motif.
On a background of elongated spirochetes of the bacterium borrelia, the stamp shows an adult female tick and a schematic picture of antibodies, which laboratory technicians try to detect when analysing blood samples. The spirochetes are also reminiscent of the swaying grass in which ticks often sit, waiting for people and animals to pass.
Borrelia burgdorferi is the name of the bacterium that ticks can carry and transmit through bites. The common tick Ixodes ricinus thrives in moist and shady places with dense undergrowth. The best way to protect yourself from ticks is to wear light clothing when in damp terrain and to keep the grass short. Still, less than 10% of ticks carry bacteria, and the infection is not always transmitted. The risk of infection is almost non-existent if you remove the tick within 24-48 hours after being bitten.
Åland is a high-risk area for tick-borne diseases, which occur in large parts of the world and have become a public health problem in both the USA and Europe. Lyme disease is the world’s most common tick-related disease. Research in Åland has been dominated by finding a reliable method for detecting active Lyme disease.
Illustrator Peter Bergström thought long and hard prior to accepting the challenge of illustrating the blood-sucking arachnid: “I hesitated to take on the task for a long time. It’s a difficult and not very image-friendly motif. In the end, Åland Post convinced me, pointing out the importance and urgency of the subject.”