Ticks (wood tick) can transmit various pathogens. So that cause various diseases. The two most important are Lyme disease (caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi) and that caused by a virus
Tick-borne meningoencephalitis, also called early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE) is called.
The tick Ixodes ricinus. In the case of Lyme disease, a bacterium is. In the case of TBE a virus is transmitted. While the first illness can be treated with antibiotics, there is no specific treatment for TBE. TBE vaccination is the only practical solution for people who want to protect themselves effectively against TBE.
Ticks that carry the TBE virus stay in so-called natural foci. It occurs mainly in northeastern Switzerland, but also in other regions of Switzerland. About 1% of ticks in natural herds carry the TBE virus.
When bitten by an infected tick, the infection is usually asymptomatic. After the bite of an infected tick, flu-like symptoms develop after a few days to a few weeks (2 to 28 days): Fever as well as headache and pain in the limbs. For most of those affected, the disease is over after a few days. You are likely to be immune to this disease for life afterwards.
In 5 to 15% of the infected persons, meningitis can occur after another 4 to 6 days, which can also spread to the brain (meningoencephalitis). The accompanying symptoms are neck stiffness, clouding of consciousness and paralysis. Residual symptoms such as fatigue, poor concentration, memory problems, headaches, sleep disturbances and dizziness can last for weeks to months, but in most cases they disappear again.
Residual damage may remain in severe courses. In 1% of the sick (mostly older patients) the disease is fatal. As a rule, young children (under 6 years of age) are less likely to contract the disease. The course of the disease is less severe than in older persons.
Vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)
General prophylaxis: well-fitting clothing, repellents, avoidance of undergrowth, searching clothing and body for ticks after exposure, removing ticks as soon as possible, disinfection. However, vaccination is the only way to actually protect oneself effectively. The vaccines against tick-borne meningoencephalitis contain killed viruses. Its action is supported by an aluminum salt.
Vaccination requires three doses of vaccine (0, 2-4 weeks, 6-12 months). Booster vaccinations are recommended every 10 years.
Vaccination against tick-borne meningoencephalitis (TBE) is recommended for all Swiss residents (except Geneva and Ticino) who are exposed to ticks during leisure activities or at work (forests, forest edges, hedges, bushes, etc.).). Vaccination is covered by the basic insurance or by the employer, also for the inhabitants of Geneva and Ticino who go to risk biotopes elsewhere in Switzerland. Vaccination is unnecessary for people who have no risk of exposure.
Vaccination is generally not necessary for children under six years of age, as severe disease is rare in this age group; however, it is possible from 1 year of age onwards.
It is never too late to catch up on one or more vaccinations.
Protection level of vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis
Three doses are necessary for the complete basic vaccination. The first two doses, generally given one month apart, already provide effective but temporary protection. The third vaccination dose can be given as early as five months after the second dose. Ensures a protection of over 95% for at least ten years. If the risk persists, a booster is recommended every ten years, but not more often.
Known side effects of the tick-borne encephalitis vaccine
The vaccination is well tolerated. Local reactions (redness, small swelling, pain) at the injection site are observed in about one-third of people. These reactions disappear after 1 to 2 days. General reactions are with decreasing frequency: headache, fatigue, muscle pain, nausea and joint pain. Fever is rarely observed. More severe allergic (anaphylactic) reactions are observed very rarely (1 to 2 reactions per 1 million doses) with the new vaccines. Severe neurological side effects are very rare (1 in 70,000 to 1 in a million doses).