Tick-borne encephalitis

Tick-borne encephalitis is a virus that affects the nervous system. Approximately one third of people infected may develop a severe form of the illness that can cause long term complications or even be fatal. The severity of the disease increases with age.

Symptoms

Flu-type symptoms at first. Symptoms of the severe form are fever, severe headache, seizures, becoming semiconscious or unconscious.

How do you catch tick-borne encephalitis?

Infected ticks spread the virus through their saliva. They live at ground level in forests, woods, grasslands, riverside meadows, marshes and shrub lands. The virus can also be transmitted by drinking unpasteurised milk from infected cows, goats or sheep but this is rare.

Incubation period

Approximately 8 days

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is confirmed through a blood test or fluid from the spinal cord.

Prevention

Avoid tick bites by wearing long sleeves, long trousers tucked into socks, sturdy footwear and using an effective insect repellent. Take care to inspect your skin each day and remove any ticks using fine tipped tweezers.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for tick-borne encephalitis - severe cases require hospital care to manage any complications. An effective vaccine is available for travellers who may be at risk.