Tick Borne Encephalitis (TBE) is a viral infection spread through the bite of an infected Ixodes tick’s saliva. Less commonly the disease can be spread through drinking unpasteurised milk. The endemic regions spread from European Russia, Scandinavia, Hungary, Czech Republic and the Balkans, mainly found in the forests between late spring and early autumn. The ticks are mainly found on small rodents such as mice and voles.
The symptoms are two-phased meaning that there is a primary onset of symptoms and then a secondary follow up of symptoms.
The first onset of symptoms will consist mainly of non-specific flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue etc. This usually happens after a 7-14 day period lasting about 1-8 days.
The next set of symptoms arises after a 1-20 day period during which time there won’t be any signs of the disease. Only a third of patients who experience symptoms in the first stage will move on to experience symptoms of the second stage. In the second stage the symptoms are more similar to those of meningitis. Key features include an extremely high temperature, malaise and weakness. It is at this stage that the disease becomes more dangerous because it begins to affect the spine and brain and can cause damage to the nervous system or lead to death.
There is no specific treatment for TBE as it can only be managed through supportive treatment.
Travellers to endemic regions are at risk in particular those travelling through woodland or camping, depending on the time of year, particularly during vole season.
Prevention is important because the bite of the Ixodes tick is difficult to detect at time of attachment as the saliva acts as a local anaesthetic.
The immunisation schedule is a course of 3 vaccinations. The first is on day 1, the second is after 1-3 months and the third 5-12 months after the second. Vaccinations are available at the pharmacy for £65 per dose. Accelerated courses are available, contact the pharmacy team on 02089021328 for further information.