TBE – tick-borne encephalitis – is caused by a virus that is spread by ticks. The disease can be serious, causing confusion, cramps and memory disorders. It is easy to protect against TBE by vaccinating.
APPOTEK cannot help with TBE. If you suspect you have TBE, you should contact your regular health care provider or emergency services urgently (see “When to consult a doctor” below).
TBE, tick-borne encephalitis, is a viral infection of the brain and meninges. The infection is spread by ticks, though not all ticks carry the virus. The tick-borne encephalitis virus is known to infect a range of hosts including ruminants, birds, rodents, carnivores, horses, and humans. The disease can also be spread from animals to humans, with ruminants and dogs being the principal transmitters of infection to humans.
The time from being bitten by a tick carrying TBE until you get the first symptoms (the incubation period) is about two weeks. You can then develop fever, headaches, muscle pain and exhaustion. These symptoms last for about 4-5 days. The vast majority (75%) become healthy after that. But some people develop meningitis. Common symptoms of meningitis are:
- severe headache
- muscle weakness
- stiffness in the neck
Most people who get TBE recover fully, although it can take a long time. But about 30% get very elongated or chronic problems with, for example, memory impairment and constant fatigue.
Prevention and Protection
Prevention includes non-specific (tick-bite prevention, tick checks) and specific prophylaxis in the form of a vaccination. Tick-borne encephalitis vaccines are very effective and available in many disease endemic areas and in travel clinics. Trade names are Encepur N and FSME-Immun CC.
What you can do for yourself
- wear clothes with long sleeves and legs when you are out in woods or land where ticks are located
- Check for ticks on your body before bedtime. The risk of TBE increases if the tick has been sitting longer than 24 hours.
- Make sure you have tweezers or another form of tick remover at home.
If possible, go to the doctor as soon as you see a tick on the body. The doctor will not only remove the parasite and treat the skin, but also immediately send it for analysis.
If you cannot see a doctor, remove the tick by yourself.
To safely get rid of the parasite, you will need:
- Latex or rubber gloves or a regular plastic bag. You need to protect your skin in case you accidentally crush a tick or its saliva gets onto you. Through the slightest wound, you can be infected.
- Disinfectant and cotton wool to treat the wound. Suitable alcohol, chlorhexidine, hydrogen peroxide or iodine solution.
- Tweezers with thin tips, tick picker or piece of thread.
Method: Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it upwards so that the whole tick follows. After that wash your hands with soap, and wipe the bite location with a disinfectant.
The disease is incurable once manifested, so there is no specific drug therapy for TBE. Symptomatic brain damage requires hospitalization and supportive care based on syndrome severity. Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as corticosteroids, may be considered under specific circumstances for symptomatic relief.
When to consult a doctor
Seek emergency care if you have a tick bite and get high fever, muscle pain and a stiff neck.
How APPOTEK can help
APPOTEK cannot help with TBE. Contact your regular health care provider.