Tick-borne Encephalitis

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Tick-borne Encephalitis
The ratio of Tick-borne Encephalitis

Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease, which natural source is wild animals (mice, foxes, wolves, deer) and which vectors are ticks. Tick-borne encephalitis is a very prevalent disease in Europe, so it is important not only to have knowledge about it, but also to use effective prophylaxis, especially since there is a vaccine against tick-borne encephalitis.


The disease is caused by group B arboviruses, which belong to the Flaviviridae family. The natural reservoir of the disease is wild animals and the vectors are ticks. Humans get tick-borne encephalitis not only through a tick bite, but also by drinking non-pasteurized milk from a diseased cow or goat. Approximately one-third of infected people get encephalitis.

Signs and Symptoms

The incubation period (when the virus only multiplies in the body without causing any clinical symptoms) varies from a few days to a month. It is followed by the first wave of the disease:  sudden rising of temperature (up to 39 - 41°C), headaches, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting. The symptoms may be similar to flu. After this stage the patient starts to feel better. The improvement lasts from 1 to 20 days. Then, about one third of the patients develop the second stage (or wave) of the disease, during which the infection enters the brain and disrupts its activities. This can lead to meningitis (strained neck muscles, fever, nausea, vomiting) or meningoencephalitis (limb paralysis, narrowed pupils, loaded eye lids and impaired swallowing as well as speech disorders in severe cases). The virus can cause hallucinations, visual, sensory and balance disorders.


The most important is history: be sure to mention if a tick has bitten or if you have been vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis. Tick-borne encephalitis is suspected from clinical signs, blood, cerebrospinal fluid tests and confirmed if antibodies against the virus of tick-borne encephalitis are found in the blood serum.


There is no specific treatment for tick-borne encephalitis. The patient is treated symptomatically depending on the prevailing symptoms:  indomethacin or paracetamol (for pain and inflammation), diazepam (sedative), prednisone (anti-inflammatory - when the course of the disease is very severe). Intravenous solutions are constantly given to restore the electrolytic balance. Mannitol, which reduces the accumulation of excessive fluids in the brain, is also administered.


There is a vaccine for tick-borne encephalitis, which is recommended especially for those, who like to be in the forest, and for the rural population. It is important to be protected from the tick bites (clothing, repellents). In 3 days after the tick bite, a specific immunoglobulin can be administered. After recovery from this disease immunity is acquired.


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