Neurologists: Get ticks vaccinated against TBE

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Newcomers also advise vacationers to be vaccinated against TBE by tick bites

Early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE) is one of the most feared infectious diseases in the temperate latitudes. In Germany, the southern German region is particularly affected. Neurologists therefore advise all persons who could come into contact with ticks in the risk areas to be vaccinated against TBE. This also includes vacationers who travel to Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Thuringia, Rhineland-Palatinate, the Saarland or to southern and northern Hesse. In addition, experts also warn against TBE in Austria, Switzerland, in large parts of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.

TBE from tick bites can be fatal If you have been bitten by a tick, you should closely monitor whether flu-like symptoms such as headache, fever, nausea and vomiting appear in the following hours and days. If this is the case, the person concerned should immediately consult a doctor. Some patients experience symptoms again one to three weeks after the symptoms have subsided. The infection is usually mild. In some cases, the affected person develops paralysis and impaired consciousness when the spinal cord and brain are involved, and can fall into a coma. The patient very rarely dies from the consequences of an inflammation of the brain or brain. The therapy consists only in alleviating the symptoms. Vaccination is the only effective protection against TBE. This protects against the infection-causing viruses.

TBE vaccination consists of two doses. However, full vaccination protection is only effective two weeks after the second vaccination. Vacationers and residents of risk areas should therefore get vaccinated in good time. The vaccination then offers protection for a maximum of twelve months, Frank Bergmann from the Professional Association of German Neurologists (BVDN) in Krefeld informs the news agency "dpa". The first and second injections would take one to three months, depending on the vaccine. A third dose of vaccine can be given after nine to twelve months. This then provides protection from TBE for at least three years, reports the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) also advises all people who might come into contact with ticks in the risk areas. Professional groups such as farmers or forestry workers are particularly at risk.

The number of reported TBE cases fluctuates from year to year. However, the mild winter could have contributed to the spread of ticks and thus also lead to an increase in the number of illnesses. Around 400 cases were registered in 2013; in the previous year there were only 195 patients with TBE. In 2011, 424 sufferers were reported and before that mostly 200 to 300 TBE cases were registered. The number of infections reached its peak in 2006. At that time, 546 people contracted the infection.

No vaccination against Lyme disease is available. In addition to TBE, tick disease can also be transmitted. This is usually indicated by reddening of the skin and around the bite. In the further course, sometimes with a significant time lag, symptoms such as general fatigue as well as muscle and joint pain can occur. As the disease progresses, the nerves and joints in particular are attacked. This can lead to the development of speech and visual disturbances, impaired growth and other symptoms, some of which are severe.

So far, no vaccine against Lyme disease is available. In order to prevent the disease, Bergmann advises to search the entire body thoroughly after spending time outdoors. If one or even more ticks are found, they must be removed carefully, preferably with a pair of tick pliers. The eight-legged parasites prefer to hide in the hollow of the knees, in the pubic area, in the armpits and on the hairline. The neurologist recommends going to the doctor after a tick bite. An antibiotic works very effectively against Lyme disease if it is taken in good time. (ag)

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