Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is an infection affecting the brain, spinal cord and surrounding membranes and can be serious with lifelong consequences, including disability, paralysis and death.1,2 Various factors have increased the risk of TBE infection such as climate change.1
If you are planning to go abroad, you can take the following information to a healthcare professional, pharmacist, doctor or nurse, who can provide you with advice on whether you might be at risk of TBE infection and what you can do.
Ticks infected with the TBE virus are not confined to one country, with reports of infected ticks from across parts of Europe, Asia and Tunisia, including some areas of the UK.3 Changes in the environment are helping ticks to spread into new areas.2 You may be at risk of TBE infection based on where you live or where you’re planning to travel to.
Human TBE cases have been reported in over 33 countries: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the UK.3 TBE may not have been found in all areas of a country or deemed a risk to humans, check the TBE risk map here or visit TravelHealthPro for guidance based on your destination.
The risk of getting bitten by a TBE infected tick can change throughout the calendar year.1 Ticks are typically active when temperatures are above 6º Celsius, usually from March to November.1 Factors affecting the environment are thought to be increasing the length of time that ticks are active and when TBE can be transmitted during the year.3
Ticks live outdoors and near the ground.4 Where you spend your time can increase your chances of getting TBE from an infected tick, as ticks can be found both within or outside cities, in parks, gardens and forests.4 Even walking in a park may put you at an increased risk of TBE infection in certain areas.4
The TBE virus can be immediately transmitted to humans with a single tick bite.1
Any outdoor activity can put you at risk of coming into contact with ticks; for example, if you take part in activities in grassy areas where ticks are commonly found.4
If you think you might be at risk now or in the near future, consider these precautions to minimise your risk:4,5
Avoid heavily tick-infested areas of forest and woodland from spring until autumn, where possible.
Wear light-colored clothing, including long-sleeved tops and long trousers tucked into socks.
Use effective insect repellents. You can buy these online and in most pharmacies.
TBE vaccination may also be recommended for people living in or visiting TBE risk areas. Visit the NHS website for guidance.
Check your body for ticks regularly.
Remove ticks as soon as possible by using a pair of fine tipped tweezers. You can follow the steps here.
Find out how to recognise TBE through its signs and symptoms.
Find out more about ways to help to avoid tick bites and protect you against TBE infection, or speak to a pharmacist, doctor, nurse or healthcare professional for advice.
Find out whether you might be at risk of TBE infection based on where you live, are visiting or travelling to.