Holiday Traveller

What is Tickborne Encephalitis Vaccination?

Tickborne encephalitis (TBE), also known as spring-summer encephalitis, is a viral infection of the central nervous system transmitted by tick bites.

Human infections follow bites of infected ticks, usually in people who visit or work in forests or fields. Infection also can be acquired by consuming unpasteurised dairy products from infected cows, goats or sheep. 

Where is it found?

Tickborne encephalitis occurs in Scandinavia, western and central Europe, and countries that made up the former Soviet Union. Risk of acquiring the disease is greatest from April to August, when the principal tick vector is most active. Countries in which TBE is common include: Austria, Estonia, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Slovenia. Less frequently it occurs in Bulgaria, Romania, Denmark, France, the Aland archipelago and neighbouring Finnish coastline, and along the coastline of southern Sweden, from Uppsala to Karlshamn. Relatively few cases have been reported from Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegonia, Albania, Greece, Italy, Norway and Turkey.

A closely-related disease, Russian spring-summer encephalitis occurs in China, Korea, Japan and eastern areas of Russia. The severity of disease, incidence of complications and resulting death rates are higher in the far-east and eastern regions of Russia than in western and central Europe.

Risk to travellers

Travelvax advises that the risk to travellers who do not visit forested areas or consume unpasteurised dairy products is low. However, for travellers anticipating extensive unprotected outdoor, evening and/or night-time exposure in rural areas (such as bicycling & camping) or engaging in certain occupational activities, the risk may be significant, even during a brief trip. Consumption of unpasteurised dairy products should be avoided.

Vaccination

Vaccination generally is not recommended for those travelling for less than 3 weeks. For travel over three weeks, vaccination should be considered, particularly if extensive rural exposure is planned in infected areas during the warm weather months, when ticks are active.

An effective vaccine is available Australia to at-risk travellers; however it can only be obtained by a prescribing doctor who must apply to the Special Access Scheme (from the Therapeutic Goods Administration). The vaccine is available in most parts of Europe and in Canada.

Travellers should be advised to avoid tick-infested areas and to protect themselves from tick bites by dressing appropriately and using an effective insect repellent. Repellents containing DEET, Citriodiol or Picaridin can be applied directly on exposed skin, while clothing and camping gear can be impregnated with permethrin. 

More information on Tickborne Encephalitis is available during your pre-travel consultation with Travelvax.

Call 1300 360 164 for the location of the clinic nearest to you.