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Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)

Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is an infection spread by tick bites. Ticks that spread it are found in parts of Europe and Asia, and some parts of the UK.

The risk of getting TBE is very low.

Ticks that spread it can be found in:

  • most of Europe – including parts of England
  • Russia
  • parts of China and Japan

Ticks live in forests and grassy areas. You're more at risk of being bitten if you do activities such as hiking and camping.

Not all ticks spread TBE. Even if you're bitten, the risk of getting seriously ill is low.

Consider having the TBE vaccine if you're visiting a country where the infection is common and you're planning to do outdoor activities when you get there.

2 injections of the vaccine can protect you for about a year. A 3rd injection can protect you for about 3 years.

You need to have the first injection at least 1 month before travelling.

The TBE vaccine is not available on the NHS. Search online for a travel clinic that offers it. It costs about £65 per injection.

Always try to avoid being bitten in places where ticks are found.

To reduce the risk of being bitten:

  • cover your skin while walking outdoors and tuck your trousers into your socks
  • use insect repellent on your clothes and skin – products containing DEET are best
  • stick to paths whenever possible
  • wear light-coloured clothing so ticks are easier to spot and brush off

Important

Tick bites are not always painful. You may not notice a tick unless you see it on your skin.

Always check your skin and hair after being outdoors.

To remove a tick safely:

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool. You can buy these from some pharmacies, vets and pet shops.
  2. Grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible.
  3. Slowly pull upwards, taking care not to squeeze or crush the tick. Dispose of it when you have removed it.
  4. Clean the bite with antiseptic or soap and water.

The risk of getting ill is low. You do not need to do anything else unless you become unwell.