Tick-borne Encephalitis

Tick-borne Encephalitis is a viral disease that is spread by infected ticks. It can cause a flu-like illness, fever, headache, nausea, muscle pain and general discomfort. This form of Encephalitis is often linked with Meningitis, as the virus can attack both the brain and the meninges.

Countries at risk

Tick-borne Encephalitis is usually found in Central and Eastern Europe, in countries such as Poland, Romania, Lithuania, some parts of Scandinavia, and throughout Russia.

Risk for Travellers

Activities such as camping, walking and working in wooded areas increase the chances of being bitten by infected ticks, so travellers planning on visiting rural areas should be aware of how to avoid tick bites. Unpasteurised milk can sometimes harbour the virus, as it can be passed on from infected cattle.

Signs and Symptoms

The initial symptoms of Tick-borne Encephalitis usually occur one to two weeks after a tick bite and include fever, headache and general flu-like illness. Sufferers may also complain of nausea, muscle pain, lethargy and general discomfort. Some patients may go on to develop Encephalitis, which can cause paralysis and can be fatal in some cases.

Prevention

The risk of acquiring Tick-borne Encephalitis can be reduced by vaccination. Travellers may be recommended a course of two Ticovac vaccines administered 2 weeks apart. For extended protection, a booster at 5 months is recommended. (3 doses in total)

Insect bite avoidance methods should be taken, such as wearing protective clothing and using insect repellent. Ticks are frequently found on protruding branches of trees and bushes, so walkers should stick to the centre of trails to avoid coming into contact with them. Avoid drinking unpasteurised milk in areas at risk.

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