Tick borne encephalitis

Tick borne encephalitis is a viral infection which is transmitted to humans usually by the bite of an infected tick. The virus causes encephalitis which is an infection of the brain. This usually starts with a flu like illness followed a few days later with headache, neck stiffness, confusion and occasionally coma. Rarely, significant brain damage or death can occur.

There is no medical cure.

The disease is usually caught in forested parts of Europe and Scandinavia, especially where there is heavy undergrowth, the greatest risk being in late Spring and Summer.

You can reduce the risk of infection by avoiding tick bites by covering arms, legs and ankles and using insect repellent on socks and outer clothes. There is also a vaccine available which is recommended for travellers who are to walk, camp or work in late Spring in warm, heavily forested parts of central eastern Europe and Scandinavia. This consists of two doses given by injection, 4 - 12 weeks apart. This will give one year's protection. A booster dose given 9 - 12 months after the second injection gives three years' protection. The vaccine appears to be safe with reported reactions being very rare.

Further information

This article published on
11 December 2005

Next review date 12/1/2013



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