Tick-Borne Disease in Europe

12.04.2019 Category: Travel Health Author: Anna Chapman


Tick-borne Encephalitis (TBE) is a viral disease that is spread by the bite of an infected Ixodes tick. It is estimated that the disease infects at least 13,000 people every year.

Symptoms can occur from 4-28 days post-bite and include fever, fatigue and muscle aches.

The virus can also go on to affect the brain and spinal cord, causing meningitis, with up to 20% of cases resulting in death. Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for TBE.

TBE occurs in 3 main geographical locations:

European TBE – Western Europe

Siberian TBE – Urals, Siberia, Far-Eastern Russia and Finland

Far Eastern TBE – far Eastern Russia, China and Japan

Transmission of TBE occurs mainly during the summer months, mainly via wild vertebrate animals such as rodents. It can be transmitted either by ingestion of unpasteurised milk, or milk products from infected animals or by the bite of an infected tick.

If you’re travelling to affected countries during the transmission period, you are most at risk if you are doing outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and walking in forested areas where ticks are abundant.

Take the following precautions to avoid infection:

Wear long trousers and sleeves. Impregnating clothing with permethrin and using insect repellents such as DEET are also good ways of preventing tick bites.

Get vaccinated. Ticovac (and Ticovac Junior for children) is advised for travellers who may be at risk. It requires two vaccinations prior to travel, and the third dose after a year can provide up to 5 years protection.

Check your body for ticks -especially in the armpits, groin and behind the knees.

Remove ticks promptly and correctly and clean the bite site with antiseptic.

Fast Facts

What Tick-Borne Encephalitis
Where Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Siberia
When Summer Months
How Infected bite of a tick
Can it be prevented? Yes – Vaccination and tick-prevention

Tick Removal Tips

If you find a tick embedded on your skin you need to remove it, asap:

To remove a tick follow these steps :

  • Use a pair of fine tweezers or a tick-remover
  • Grasp the tick head as close the skin as possible
  • Pull upwards at right-angles to the skin

Top tip: Avoid putting pressure on the body to avoid incomplete removal which may cause infection.


There is a vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis (Ticovac and Ticovac Junior) which is highly effective against TBE. The primary schedule requires two vaccinations to be given 14 days apart, and a third dose to be given one year later. A booster vaccination is recommended after 3 years. The vaccination is suitable for adults and children over the age of one-year-old.

You can book a travel consultation appointment online to find out if you beed a tick-borne encephalitis vaccine for your next trip.