A 30-per-cent rise in tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) in Switzerland this year has prompted health authorities to consider broadening vaccination recommendations against the disease to ‘entire cantons or even for the whole country’. There have been 334 recorded infections this year, which constitutes a new high in case numbers, suggesting that current vaccination coverage may be inadequate.
TBE is a viral infection that can cause fever, vomiting, cramps and prolonged paralysis. In rare instances, infection can be fatal. Travellers planning to spend time in areas where the disease is endemic, which includes forested areas of Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Northern China, and Mongolia, may be at risk. Safe and effective vaccines are available in Europe and the Swiss Health Ministry has recommended vaccination for the disease. Travellers visiting an area where TBE is found should consider having the TBE vaccine. Two injections can protect for around a year, while a third infection gives protection for around three years. The first injection is required at least one month before travel.