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September 14, 2010

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Tiny ticks spread big, if groundless, fear in city

ALTHOUGH doctors say tick bites are unlikely in urban areas, some Shanghai locals have become nervous about the tiny bugs that have caused more than 30 fatalities around China.

"Now I easily feel itchy and the image of that tick always haunts me," said a local young woman, Iris Hu. "I even avoid getting close to greenery areas or flower beds now."

Some people are afraid of finding ticks in pets and stray cats and dogs. Sales of anti-bug sprayers used on pets are increasing on e-commerce websites.

On, China's major online purchase platform, all kinds of sprayers are on offer from 1.5 yuan (US$21 cents) to about 80 yuan.

"Almost every buyer would ask me whether the sprayer is effective on ticks, as posts are everywhere on the Internet saying that ticks would cling to dogs," said seller Xiao Dai. "I sold seven bottles of sprayers from last week, which is a very satisfactory achievement."

Some people have posted reports on the Internet saying they think they've been bitten by ticks, but doctors said they had not received any such cases.

A netizen calling himself "juebufushu," who lives in Pudong, said he was bitten by an odd bug over the weekend. He saw a bug on his arm, and then felt a little pain. When he tried to get a good look at the bug, it was gone.

"I didn't know what kind of bug it was, but I almost felt like weeping when I found that the bug looked almost the same as the ticks showed on TV," he said. "I will go to hospital at the spare time."

Doctors with Shanghai No. 10 People's Hospital, however, said that ticks usually don't appear in big cities.

"We receive all kinds of patients being bitten by bugs, insects and worms, but up to now, none of them was found bitten by ticks," said Shi Yuling, a doctor with the hospital's dermatological department.

As for the sprayers, Shi said it's hard to say whether they are effective to ticks.

"Usually such sprayers are used to clean up mites," Shi said. "I reckon that we should first find out which virus the ticks carry."

Shi advised the sprayers be used sparingly.

"Such sprayers usually contain substances bad to the human body," Shi said.


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