Tick-borne Encephalitis

Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a viral infection that affects the central nervous system. It is primarily transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks, although it can also be acquired by consuming unpasteurised dairy products from infected animals, such as goats, sheep, or cows.

TBE is most commonly found in certain regions of Europe and Asia, including parts of central and eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and some areas of China and Russia. The risk of contracting TBE is higher in rural and forested areas where ticks are prevalent.

Symptoms of tick-borne encephalitis can vary in severity, and not all infected individuals will display symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, they may include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea, and vomiting. In more severe cases, TBE can progress to involve the central nervous system, leading to symptoms such as meningitis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord) or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

There is currently no specific treatment for tick-borne encephalitis, and management primarily involves supportive care to alleviate symptoms. In some cases, hospitalization may be necessary for monitoring and intensive care.

Vaccination is available to prevent tick-borne encephalitis. The vaccine is recommended for individuals who live in or travel to areas where TBE is endemic, particularly if they plan to spend a significant amount of time outdoors in rural or forested areas. The vaccine is typically administered in a series of doses, and booster doses may be required to maintain immunity.

Types of TBE Vaccines

There are several TBE vaccines available, and the specific options may vary depending on the country. The vaccines are typically derived from inactivated or recombinant forms of the TBE virus.

Vaccine Schedule

The TBE vaccine is administered as a series of doses. The number of doses and the schedule can vary depending on the vaccine product. Generally, three doses are given within a certain time frame, with additional booster doses recommended for long-term protection. It’s important to follow the recommended schedule provided by healthcare professionals.

Who Should Get Vaccinated

The TBE vaccine is recommended for individuals who live in or travel to areas where TBE is endemic or highly prevalent. These areas are typically found in certain regions of Europe and Asia. People who engage in outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, or working in wooded or rural areas, have a higher risk of tick exposure and may benefit from the TBE vaccine.

Vaccine Effectiveness

The TBE vaccine is highly effective in preventing TBE if administered according to the recommended schedule. It stimulates the body’s immune system to produce antibodies against the TBE virus, providing protection.

Additional Precautions

In addition to vaccination, it’s important to take precautions to prevent tick bites, such as wearing protective clothing, using insect repellents, and performing thorough tick checks after outdoor activities. Avoiding tick-infested areas and removing attached ticks promptly can help reduce the risk of TBE and other tick-borne diseases.

Vaccine Side Effects

The TBE vaccine is generally safe. Common side effects may include soreness at the injection site, mild fever, muscle aches, and fatigue. Serious side effects are rare.

If you are planning to travel to an area where tick-borne encephalitis is prevalent, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider or a travel medicine specialist. They can assess your risk, provide information about preventive measures such as avoiding tick bites, and advise on the need for vaccination based on your individual circumstances.