Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is an inflammation of the brain and meninges. It is caused by an enveloped virus of the genus Flavivirus and is usually transmitted by ticks to humans. The pathogens can be found in many European countries. In Germany, the southern federal states are particularly affected.
The virus multiplies in small mammals, which are commonly infected with ticks. Via these ticks, the virus can enter the human bloodstream through a bite. The most common vector in Central Europe is the Common Woodbuck (Ixodes ricinus). Its preferred habitats are grasses, forests and bushes. In European risk areas, two to five per cent of ticks carry the virus. TBE infection is therefore relatively rare. Even if the virus has been transmitted – which does not happen every time an infected tick bites someone – only up to one third of people affected suffer from TBE. It is not possible to transmit the virus from person to person, so those who are infected are not contagious. Very rarely, the virus is transmitted by virus-infected raw milk from goats and sheep, and in exceptional cases, also from cows.
TBE infections occur more frequently in spring and summer. Infected people initially have flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache and aching limbs. The following one to three weeks are symptom-free. Some of the patients then develop meningitis, encephalitis or myelitis, in other words, inflammation of the meninges, brain or spinal cord, which manifests itself with neurological symptoms. Such severe TBE can be accompanied by paralysis of the entire body and, in some cases, can even lead to coma. About one in a hundred patients with these severe complications dies of the infection. In 70 to 95 per cent of cases, it is an asymptomatic and mostly attenuated form of TBE.
No special hygiene measures are necessary when dealing with contact persons.
The required spectrum of action against Flavivirus is: limited virucidal