ISW alarms: marked increase in TBE disease cases

The importance of TBE has increased in Europe in the last 30 years. The number of TBE-cases in European countries with a TBE risk rose by an average of 400 percent. The risk areas have spread or new ones have been discovered. The ISW-TBE (International Scientific Working Group on Tick-Borne-Encephalitis) is calling for Europe-wide recommendations on vaccination and advice for travellers.

TBE could be pushed back without any problem, given the quality of today´┐Ż's TBE-vaccines. The vaccination rate in many risk areas is too low. The exception is Austria with 87 percent, but in many countries it is at most 10 percent. More than 10.000 new TBE-cases occur every year. Although Austria is exemplary, even here there were a further 84 cases in 2006. Switzerland registered a 58 percent increase in cases (131/2004; 207/2005) and a further increase of 27 percent in 2006 (259 cases). In the Czech Republic, cases rose by 28 percent from 2004 to 2005, and by a further 58 percent from 2005 to 2006 (500/2004; 642/2005; 1017/2006). The changes in Germany are serious (274/2004, 431/2005; 535/2006).

60 million European tourists visit TBE-areas every year

The ISW-TBE presented a list of demands (Europe-wide TBE-vaccination recommendations/travel advice) aimed at increasing awareness of TBE as a challenge facing health policy. The Austrian TBE Victims-Self-Help-Group is performing a vital role in providing information. TBE-experts are appealing for similar groups to be set up in other affected areas.

According to the WHO, TBE is an acute disease that affects the central nervous system. In 35 to 58 percent of patients it leads to long-term neurological complications, one to two percent die. There is no medication that gives protection after the event. The only reliable means of prevention is vaccination.



Dr. Sabine Unterweger/comunicative