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All you need to know about tick-borne encephalitis

All you need to know about tick-borne encephalitis
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Simple tricks to protect yourself from tick-borne encephalitis

The tick season starts in spring and runs until early fall, so if you have a trip to an area where ticks occur and you are planning on doing some hiking or other outdoor activities, you should inform yourself about tick-borne encephalitis (TBE).

What is TBE?

Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a viral infection spread via the saliva of an infected tick. It can result in permanent neurological damage or even death.

What are some TBE symptoms?

TBE symptoms are flu-like and appear within two weeks of infection. They include:

  • nausea
  • lethargy
  • muscle pain.

In most cases it ends there, but in some cases the infection spreads to the brain causing swelling (encephalitis). This is a medical emergency. It has the following symptoms.

  • confusion or drowsiness
  • seizures
  • photophobia
  • paralysis
  • speech problems.

If you or someone you are looking after get these symptoms, go straight to hospital.

Any flu-like symptoms that arise after your return from an area where TBE is endemic are a cause for concern. Seek medical advice and let your healthcare provider know you may have been exposed to tick bites.

What vaccine is there for tick-borne encephalitis?

There is a vaccine for TBE, and your travel health nurse may recommend it if you are going to:

  • the forested areas of Austria
  • the Balkans
  • the Czech Republic
  • European Russia
  • Hungary
  • Slovakia
  • the forests of Scandinavia
  • the far eastern parts of the Russian Federation
  • Mongolia
  • northern China.

Make a travel health appointment six weeks before you travel to be sure of complete protection. We can still help with vaccines, including the TBE shot, if you need to travel sooner than that, however.

Do I need a TBE booster?

If you have been vaccinated against TBE previously then you may need a booster every three to five years. Your travel health nurse will tell you if you need it.

How do I avoid tick bites?

Unfortunately the vaccine for tick-borne encephalitis cannot offer 100% protection. And ticks can also carry other disease which are not vaccine preventable. So as well as getting vaccinated you should do your best to avoid tick bites. Use bug repellent and cover as much of your body as you can with clothing. You are more likely to pick up ticks in undergrowth, so avoid bashing paths. Read more about preventing tick bites from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How to avoid insect bites

Avoiding insect bites and stings is an important part of your travel health strategy. Not only are they painful but insects carry bacteria, viruses and protozoa that can make you seriously ill. See our advice on avoiding insect-borne diseases for more information.

I’m looking for a travel clinic in Ottawa

Look no further than Canadian Travel Clinics if you need travel vaccinations in Ottawa. We can offer evening and early morning appointments for your convenience. Book online now.