Tick-borne encephalitis

What is it?

Tick-borne encephalitis – is a viral infectious disease involving the central nervous system and occurring mostly in April – October, the seasonality associated with the incidence of ticks. This inflammation of the brain caused by a virus which can also damage the brain membranes and spinal cord. Although TBE is most commonly recognized as a neurological disorder, mild fever can also occur. Often for patients who have recovered stays residual effects which may interfere with fulfiling life or mental activity.

Tick-borne encephalitis each year get sick from 10k to 13k people, of which 1k to 2k in the Baltic countries.

Symptoms and signs

The incubation period is from 8 to 30 days after the tick bite. Tick-borne encephalitis symptoms come within 1-2 weeks after infection. First symptom – fever from 39 to 40ºC lasting 2-5 days , and then the man does not feel anything about a week, but a week later appear different symptoms lasting about 10-21 day.

Tick-borne encephalitis may damage:

a) the meninges – meningitis. Headache, nausea and vomiting, fever.

b) the brain – encephalitis. Usually it affects language, thinking, attention, balance disorder, tremor, rarely – hearing, vision, movement, breathing problems may occur mental / consciousness disorders.

c) the spinal cord – myelitis. There are arms, legs weakness, sensory disturbance, urinary / bowel disorders.


TBE is caused by tick-borne encephalitis virus, a member of the genus Flavivirus in the family Flaviviridae. It was first isolated in 1937. It is transmitted by the bite of several species of infected ticks, including Ixodes scapularis, Ixodes ricinus and Ixodes persulcatus or (rarely) through the non-pasteurized milk of infected cows.

Increased risk of infection the forest and field workers, farmers, travelers, tourists, athletes (runners, orienteers etc.), mushroom pickers, berry pickers.


The general blood tests may show decreased number of white blood cells, decreased blood platelets. Increased erythrocyte sedimentation rate in blood. Lumbar puncture fluid may show increased number of lymphocytes.


The main objectives are: to eliminate ticks and rodents. For people, especially those who live in endemic areas of the disease is recommended to get vaccinated to protect themselves. Tick-borne encephalitis vaccine is very effective and available in many disease endemic areas and in travel clinics.


There is no specific treatment for this disease. Measures for treatment: bed rest, fluid and electrolyte infusion, infusion of diuretics. Non-narcotic analgesics are used to relieve pain, as well as sedatives, anticonvulsants, B group vitamins, ascorbic acid. Resulting from bacterial complications are treated with antibiotics. After a period of acute paralysis patients are treated with physiotherapy, massage, gymnastics, given treatment in neurological nature sanatorium.

Most common residual symptoms: limb paralysis, muscular atrophy, impaired coordination of movements. Suffer from a variety of neurological symptoms: headache, disturbance in attention, worsening memory, increased irritability, distrupted sleep.