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Tick-borne disease cases reported in Sweden

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15:53 CEST+02:00
Nine cases of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) have been reported to the Institute for Infectious Disease Control (Smittskyddinstitutet, SMI) so far this summer, with forecasts for the season dependent on the weather.

All the cases come from an already-endemic area in central Sweden and the first was reported in the last week of April.

"It is difficult to predict how the season will develop as both tick and human behaviour are heavily affected by the weather," wrote Marika Hjertqvist, an epidemiologist in the department of epidemiology at SMI.

During the same period last year, 11 cases were reported.

SMI has released guidelines for how to avoid being bitten by ticks for those who frequent exposed areas:

When in exposed areas, boots and long trousers shld be worn with the legs tucked into boots. A shirt tucked into at the waist is also an effective means of preventing bites, the institute writes.

As it takes some time for a tick to burrow itself into a carrier, one should closely inspect one's body on a daily basis to look for ticks that may be crawling around looking for a crevice to attach itself to. Showering is also recomended after a period of time spent in a tick-infested area.

TBE vaccinations are recommended for permanent residents, summer residents and residents who reside in the forest and fields in areas with a risk of infection. Even travellers planning to visit Åland, the Baltic countries or in specific risk areas in Central and Eastern Europe should be vaccinated.

TBE is a viral infectious disease affecting the central nervous system. The virus can infect the brain (encephalitis), the meninges (meningitis) or both (meningoencephalitis). Mortality is 1 to 2 percent, with deaths typically occurring five to seven days after the onset of neurological symptoms.

Although TBE is most commonly recognized as a neurological disorder, mild fever can also occur.

The number of reported cases has increased in most countries. The disease is incurable and there is no specific drug therapy for TBE. TBA vaccine is effective and available in some endemic areas.

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