• Travel Alert – Tick-borne Encephalitis (Germany)

    Tick-borne Encephalitis in Germany

    In Southern Germany this year’s tick activity has started only at the end of March [2016]. At the moment this area experiences the highest tick activity (almost exclusively _Ixodes ricinus_) at least in the last 7 years, the time since standardized studies have been conducted at the Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology.

    In a natural focus of Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV), which has been sampled monthly since 2009, the highest number of _Ixodes ricinus_ ever found in a March has been recorded this year [2016]. These numbers are representative for tick numbers from other TBEV foci in southern Germany as shown in the results gained during recent years.

    In the district of Marburg-Biedenkopf in the centre of Germany (from where no former data are available) the tick numbers sampled by one person in one hour were up to 500. The 1st preliminary data on the minimal infection rates with TBEV assume that they are not different from rates during recent years and therefore range between 0.2 to 1 percent.

    These high tick numbers therefore might increase the risk of exposure to _Ixodes ricinus_ and therefore also actually increase the risk of infection with TBEV (and probably also other tick-borne infections) by 2-3 times.

    Dr. Gerhard Dobler

    Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology

    Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus infections begin in the spring and continue on through the summer. The higher than usual tick numbers mentioned in this report are a warning of the potential risk of higher numbers of human TBE cases than usual. Central and Eastern Europe countries are endemic for the European subtype of tick-borne

    Encephalitis (TBE) virus and cases occur yearly there; cases have declined significantly in Austria and remained low in Germany, Poland, and Slovakia, but the above report suggests that the case number in Germany may increase this year (2016).

    Presumably, the public will be warned of this risk and advised of measures to avoid tick bites and be vaccinated as people become more active out of doors with the onset of warmer weather. The Standing Commission on Vaccination Recommendations at the Robert Koch Institute recommends vaccination against TBE for people who live or work in areas at risk of TBE and who are at risk of tick bites, and for people in endemic areas for other reasons if they are at risk of tick exposure.

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