Tick-borne Encephalitis Vaccination
- Low risk
- Moderate risk
- High risk
Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral infection transmitted through the bite from an infected ixodes tick. It can also be spread through unpasteurised milk from infected animals. In the wild, the infection is carried by birds, deer, sheep and rodents.
Where is tick-borne encephalitis found?
Tick-borne encephalitis is found in Northern, Eastern and Central Europe (especially Austria, Hungary, the Balkans, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Scandinavia where it is mainly a disease of the forest), Northern and Eastern parts of Russia and Asia including China and Japan.
Ticks are mainly found in forested areas, grasslands, beside rivers, lakes and wetlands. Most human infections are contracted during outdoor activities such as forestry working, rambling, trekking, camping, fishing and mountain biking during tick season (spring to early autumn).
The infection causes inflammation of the brain, spinal cord and nerve roots. Initially it may cause headache, fever, confusion and muscle pains, and can be fatal if medical attention is not sought immediately. Unfortunately, between 1-20% of those infected with Tick-borne Encephalitis will die from the disease depending on where it is contracted. Also, 10% of people affected with the disease will go on to develop long-term conditions such as fatigue, personality changes, epilepsy, memory loss and speech problems.
1. Avoiding tick bites: Use of insect repellents, nets and coils should be considered. Appropriate clothing, including long-sleeve tops and trousers, is recommended.
2. Unpasteurised milk should not be drunk within high-risk areas.
3. Vaccination is the best protection against tick-borne encephalitis.
FSME-IMMUN is the vaccine which helps to protect against tick-borne encephalitis.
It is advised for people travelling to high risk places where tick-borne encephalitis may occur and at Cosmopolitan Medical Clinic, our doctor or nurse will advise if you should consider having this vaccine. Women who are either pregnant or breastfeeding should discuss their itinerary and risk profile with our travel nurse.
Urgent medical attention is required if a person has contracted tick-borne encephalitis. Hospitalisation, supportive medical treatment and immunoglobulins are often required.
The vaccine is administered in 3 separate doses, over a period of 5 to 12 months. An accelerated course can be given over a period of two weeks if required. A booster dose is needed to maintain protection every 3 years, if you plan to travel to an area where the disease is present.
The vaccine is licensed in the UK for use on patients over 36 months of age. However, it is routinely used in Austria from 18 months of age and the use of the vaccine should be considered in young children if they are going to be at high risk.