Tick Borne Enchephalitis
Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is transmitted to humans by a bite from an infected ixodes tick. Less commonly the disease can be spread through drinking unpasteurised milk from infected animals, especially goats. The disease is maintained in the wild by birds, deer, rodents and sheep.
TBE is found in the far eastern part of the former USSR and extending across into China. It is found in European Russia, Austria, Hungary, the Balkans, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Scandinavia where, it is mainly a disease of the forest. TBE occurs from late spring until early autumn and outbreaks often follow a period when voles are numerous.
Most human infections are contracted during outdoor leisure pursuits such as forestry working, camping, rambling and mountain biking, during tick season (spring to early autumn)
TBE produces clinical features similar to those of many other types of meningitis and/or encephalitis.
The disease may be restricted to the meninges (the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord), which usually leads to full recovery, but it may also affect the brain, the upper portions of the spinal cord and even the nerve roots. Severe disease can cause permanent neurological damage and some patients require long term rehabilitation. About 1 in 100 patients will die from TBE.
No specific treatment is available for TBE.
Recommendations for Travellers
Travellers should consider being vaccinated against TBE if they are risk of tick bites when working walking or camping in endemic areas.
Bite avoidance must be emphasised to all travellers
- Bites from ticks are unusual in package tourists staying in urban or developed tourist resorts - ticks prefer long grassy areas.
- Ticks normally become attached to skin or clothing after brushing against bracken or long grass and then migrate to warm moist areas of the body such as groins or axillae to feed.
- Avoid unnecessary exposure in infested areas and where possible, keep to paths.
- Clothing should cover the legs with socks outside trousers to prevent the ticks reaching the skin.
- Insect repellents can be used to impregnate exposed clothing such as trousers and socks.
- Ticks should always be removed as soon as possible, ideally with tweezers hooked around the mouthparts under the tick's body. A long fingernail can also act as a lever to prize the tick off. Do not squeeze the body of the tick.
Ticks do not normally feed for about 12-24 hours after attaching themselves during which time infection risk is small.
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We provide vaccinations by appointment at our clinics in Farnborough in Hampshire and Woking in Surrey. If inconvenient, please contact us to take advantage of our Mobile Clinic service.
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