Travelling takes us out of our comfort zones and inspires us to see, taste and try new things. Unfortunately it does come with a few risks so don’t forget to look into the vaccines and medications required. The tick – borne encephalitis is one to consider for some countries.
What is Tick-borne encephalitis and how do you catch it?
Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a viral infection that’s spread by a type of tick, which looks a bit like a small spider. The infection is transmitted when an infected tick bites a human or animal. Ticks that spread the infection are mainly found in rural areas such as forests, woods, grasslands, riverside meadows, marshes, brushwood and scrublands in some European and Asian countries including Austria, Estonia, Croatia, Russia, China, Japan and some parts of the UK.
In rare cases, TBE can also be contracted through eating or drinking unpasteurized dairy products from an infected animal.
Signs and symptoms
Tick-borne encephalitis symptoms occur in two stages. First signs of TBE include flu-like symptoms such as:
- High temperature
- Muscle pain
On average, these symptoms last around eight days and most people make a full recovery. In around 20-30 percent of cases, people go on to develop more serious symptoms. This is when the virus has spread to the protective tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and the brain itself (encephalitis).
More serious symptoms can include:
- Change in mental state
- Confusion, disorientation or drowsiness
- Sensitivity to bright light
- Inability to speak
The tick-borne encephalitis vaccination is administered via injection. The vaccination course consists of three doses, but sufficient protection for the ongoing tick season is to be expected after the first two doses, the second dose usually being given one to three months after the first. However, if time is short speak to our travel health pharmacist or clinician.
How long do TBE vaccinations last?
Following a course of three vaccinations, a first booster dose should be given after three years. For those aged between two and 60 years, subsequent boosters can be given five yearly if at continued risk.
For travelers over 60 years, boosters should be given every three years if at continued risk.