Tickborne EncephalitisTick Borne Encephalitis (TBE) is a viral infection spread to humans by bite of a tick which is a small spider-like parasite. The virus is maintained in nature by small mammals, domestic livestock and certain species of birds. There is currently no cure for this disease so management is to relieve symptoms.
Case fatality rate is 1% but long lasting permanent or neuropsychiatric damage were 10-20% of affected patients. The virus can spread to the protective layer of tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) or the brain itself (encephalitis). It may take several months or years to make a full recovery.
SymptomsIncubation period is 2 to 28 days. First stage symptom is similar to having a flu which can lead to second and more serious stage when recovery from first stage is not achieved. Second stage includes changes in mental state, fits, sensitivity to bright light, being unable to speak and paralysis.
TransmissionInfected tick transmits the virus through their saliva which also contains a natural anaesthetic so you may not notice if you’ve been bitten. Although rare, drinking and eating unpasteurised dairy products from infected animals such as goats can expose you to the tick borne encephalitis virus. The best way to prevent TBE is to be vaccinated against the infection before travelling or working in area with a risk of tick borne encephalitis and especially if you visit rural areas, go hiking or camping. Tick can commonly attached to the hair line, behind the ears, on or around the elbows, the backs of the knees, the groin and the armpits. Tick should be removed quickly by a tweezer or special tick remover, using gloves or tissue to cover your fingers and avoid touching the tick.
PrevalenceThe TBE virus is almost exclusively restricted to areas of Europe and Asia. Since 1930s, TBE has been a major public health problem in central Russia. TBE occurs in most or parts of Austria, Germany, southern and central Sweden, France (Alsace region), Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Croatia, Albania, the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), the Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary, Russia (including Siberia), Ukraine, some other countries of the former Soviet Union, and northern and eastern regions of China.
In Europe and Asia, approximately 10,000-12,000 TBE cases are reported each year (WHO). Infected tick can bite at any time of the year but tick activity is at highest during the spring and early summer.
Although there is no spread of TBE virus in the UK, infected tick bites can cause other condition such as Lyme disease.
VaccinationVaccination provides protection even when carried out on accelerated course. The best time to begin the course of vaccination against TBE is during the winter months in order to ensure protection prior to the start of the tick season in spring.
The vaccine is inactivated, do not contain live organisms and cannot cause the diseases against which they protect.