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TBE Frequently Asked Questions

PP-VAC-GBR-0698 April 2018

What does a tick look like?

The larval forms of  ticks are tiny and difficult to see, for example, they can be the size of a freckle or speck of dirt.2

Adult ticks, once they have fed and become engorged, may be the size of a coffee bean.2

Common areas for ticks to attach are at the hair-line, behind the ears, elbows, backs of knees, groin and armpits.2

Where do ticks live?

Ticks are found in forests, woods, grasslands, riverside meadows, marshes, brushwood and scrublands. They can also be found in parks and gardens, so you don’t have to be in the countryside to get bitten.2  Ticks usually live in the undergrowth, where they can easily get onto people's clothes or skin.1

What time of year am I most at risk?

You can be bitten by an infected tick at any time of year, but tick activity is at its highest during the Spring and early Summer.1

Will I know if I’ve been bitten by a tick?

The virus is present in the tick’s saliva, which also contains a natural anaesthetic so you may not notice you've been bitten.1

How do I remove a tick?

To remove a tick you should:1

  • Use tweezers or a special tick remover and wear gloves or cover your fingers with tissue to avoid touching the tick
  • Grab the tick as close to the skin as you can, and gently pull straight up until all parts are removed
  • Avoid twisting or jerking the tick as you're removing it because it may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in your skin after the tick has been removed
  • Avoid squeezing the body of the tick and the contents of its stomach into the site of your bite

After removing the tick, wash your hands with soap and water and clean the tick bite with soap and water or an antiseptic 1

What are the first signs of infection?

Initial symptoms of TBE are similar to flu and can include:1

  • a high temperature (fever)
  • a headache
  • tiredness
  • muscle pain
  • feeling sick

When should I seek medical help?

Seek medical help if you've returned from an area of the world known to have cases of TBE (see below), and you start to experience flu-like symptoms.1

You should seek medical advice as soon as possible if you've been bitten by a tick in a TBE risk area and you haven't been vaccinated against TBE, or if you develop a rash or fever after being bitten. 1

Does insect spray work against ticks?

Applying insect repellent containing DEET to exposed skin is one of the precautions that’s recommended to reduce your risk of being bitten by an infected tick.1

You can also spray permethrin based repellents on to clothing and camping gear.4

Ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions as insect repellents are not suitable for everyone.

Is TBE the same as Lyme disease?

TBE is not the same as Lyme disease, although both are transmitted via tick bites.1,3  TBE is caused by a virus whereas Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria.1,3  This means that Lyme disease can be treated by antibiotics, whereas there’s no specific treatment for TBE.1,3

You can get Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick in the UK, whereas the TBE virus isn’t present in ticks in the UK.1,3  Areas with known TBE exist within a band that extends from central, eastern and northern Europe across Russia to parts of eastern Asia.2  Country List

How is TBE treated?

There is no anti-viral treatment for TBE so treatment aims to help relieve symptoms until the infection passes.4,1

Can I be vaccinated against tick-borne diseases?

There is a vaccine which can help protect you against TBE.1  It provides protection against TBE in around nine out of every 10 people who receive it.1

Like many other travel vaccinations, vaccination against TBE is not available on the NHS, you have to pay for it.5  Private travel vaccinations are generally available from pharmacists and travel clinics or your GP practice if it provides a travel vaccination service.5,6

Even if you've been vaccinated, you should still take precautions to reduce your risk of being bitten by an infected tick.1TBE Prevention