Have you been vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis?

Ticks are found throughout the world and they are found in Estonia as well. They not only live in the forests, but are also often found in cities and in backyards. The ticks found in Estonia spread two types of disease that are dangerous to humans: tick-born encephalitis and Lyme disease. Most of the cases of disease are found in Saaremaa, Ida-Viru and Lääne-Viru Counties, Lääne County, Pärnu County and Tartu County. However, all of Estonia is considered a tick-borne encephalitis danger zone.

Under Estonia’s conditions, ticks are usually most active from April through October. That is why we recommend – before moving to Estonia or before going into the wild here in Estonia – you get vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis.

It is possible to get yourself vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis. If you find a tick on your body, you should remember first if you have vaccinated yourself against tick-borne encephalitis or not. If you have had two vaccine injections, then you are protected against the disease and have no reason to worry.

If you have not been vaccinated, then you need to monitor yourself for at least a week. Getting a blood analysis is recommended two to three weeks after you have been bitten by a tick. Nothing will show up before then, because the disease specific antibodies take time to develop.

The first tick-borne encephalitis symptoms occur 7-14 days after contact with a tick

Encephalitis or inflammation of the brain is caused by the virus that comes from the saliva that a tick secretes into human blood once they attach themselves to the skin. The disease runs its course in two phases. The first symptoms occur 7-14 days after contact with a tick and they can be quite mild – a mild fever, malaise, headache, muscle aches, nausea, loss of appetite, indigestion, rash or a red spot near the bit site.

About a third of those who have been infected will go through the second phase 2–20 days later, with a rise in body temperature, severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, photophobia and a stiff neck, which indicate the development of brain and brain membrane inflammation or meningitis.

Immunization against tick-borne encephalitis should begin in April, which will allow the immunization to be effective by the time the ticks are most active. However, it is not too late to get immunized in May as well.

Vacination consists of three injections

Vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis consists of three injections. The first two are done one to three months apart, and the third one nine months to a year later. From there, the first reinjection needs to be done three years later and then in five year intervals. At Confido Private Medical Center, we will always remind you when it is time for your next vaccination.

We vaccinate both children (starting from 1 year old) and adults against tick-born encephalitis.

Before being vaccinated, you can discuss with an experienced doctor the arguments for and against being immunized. Most vaccines used at Confido are aluminum-free and safe. There is no specific treatment against tick-born encephalitis, only the symptoms of the disease can be treated.

This is usually done in the hospital, as the disease makes a patient violently ill. It takes time to heal from the disease, but to be completely rehabilitated takes a much longer time.

There is no vaccine to prevent Lyme disease, but the disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics.

What should you do if you find a tick on your skin?

The primary rule for removing a tick from your body is to be careful. Do not squeeze the tick, because you may secrete the tick’s saliva into the bitten area and with this, the pathogen as well. Tweezers should be used to grip the neck of the tick and to pull it out in a sudden twisting motion. If the head of the tick remains in the skin, leave it there, the body will push it out on its own.

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