Tick-borne encephalitis: etiology, clinic, diagnosis, treatment

Here comes the warm season. And, meanwhile, not only people love to bask in the sun, but also representatives of the animal world. Therefore, lovers of outdoor activities often face dangers: snakes, mosquitoes, ticks … Let’s talk about the most common cause of fear in the summer – tick bites.


Tick-borne encephalitis is an infectious disease caused by a virus (genus Flavivirus). Mainly the nervous system is affected. The main carriers are ixodid ticks. The source of infection is both the ticks themselves and animals (sheep, goats, cows). Infection occurs when a person is bitten by an infected tick. Transmission of the infection is possible through the consumption of raw milk from goats and cows. The peak of the disease occurs in the spring-summer period (May-June). When it enters the human body, the virus multiplies in the skin. Then it penetrates the lymph nodes, internal organs, affects the central nervous system, causing inflammation.

Clinical manifestations

The period from the moment of infection to the onset of initial symptoms ranges from 7 to 21 days. The disease begins with an increase in temperature, then chills, general weakness, fatigue, weakness, sleep disturbance, and a slight headache appear. After 5-16 days after normalization of temperature, a second wave of fever is possible. She is accompanied by a severe headache. There may be nausea and vomiting, pain throughout the body and limbs. Since the virus affects the nervous system, signs of encephalitis appear on the 3-4th day of illness. Patients are inhibited, drowsy, deafened, indifferent to the environment. Convulsions, delirium, paresthesias (a feeling of “crawling”), paresis and paralysis of the limbs are possible. In rare cases – coma. The appearance of the patient is characteristic – redness of the face, neck, chest, mucous membranes, injection of the sclera. In addition to the nervous system, the cardiovascular system can also be affected.

Forms of tick-borne encephalitis

Depending on the characteristic neurological disorders, the following forms of tick-borne encephalitis are distinguished:

  1. feverish form. Characterized by short-term fever, headache, nausea, rapid recovery, favorable prognosis.
  2. meningeal form. The course is similar to that of the febrile form, but the clinical manifestations are more pronounced, meningeal symptoms and changes in the cerebrospinal fluid are noted. The outcome is favorable.
  3. Meningoencephalitic form. In addition to the above symptoms, a violation of consciousness joins (in severe cases, up to coma).
  4. polio form. It is manifested by the occurrence of paresis and paralysis of the upper limbs. The course is severe, the prognosis is poor.
  5. Polyradiculoneuritic form. Characterized by pain and paresthesia along the nerve trunks. The prognosis is serious. Organic changes in the nervous system (convulsive syndrome, muscle atrophy) can persist for a long time.

Diagnosis of tick-borne encephalitis

For the diagnosis of tick-borne encephalitis, the fact of a tick bite or the consumption of raw goat’s milk matters. In the general blood test, there is an increase in the number of leukocytes, an acceleration of ESR. The general analysis of urine, as a rule, is not informative. The main laboratory test for the diagnosis of tick-borne encephalitis is RSK by the method of paired sera. For additional diagnostics, ELISA and PCR methods are used.


The treatment of this disease is complex and expensive, it is carried out only in the conditions of an infectious diseases hospital. Bed rest is prescribed for the entire febrile period. Anti-tick donor immunoglobulin and ribonuclease are used. Detoxification and dehydration therapy is also carried out, with convulsions – anticonvulsant.


The most effective method of prevention is vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis. For this purpose, the vaccine is administered three times, with time intervals of 1-3 and 5-12 months, respectively. To prevent infection through milk, it must be boiled before eating.

In order to avoid this disease, it is necessary to observe preventive measures when walking in the forest and parks. Particular care should be taken in foci of tick-borne encephalitis. Clothing should be made of dense fabric, completely cover the body, leaving no open areas, a headgear is required. Use repellents. After the walk, undress completely, inspect the surface of the skin, scalp and clothing for ticks.

Tick ​​removal methods

If the tick has stuck to the body, try to carefully remove it, trying not to tear off the proboscis. To do this, grab the tick with tweezers and remove it with rotational movements. You can also use a thread: tie it into a knot as close to the proboscis as possible and gently pull it up. If, nevertheless, the proboscis came off and remained in the thickness of the skin, try to remove it with a sterile needle, after treating the skin with alcohol.

Try not to crush the tick: the causative agent of tick-borne encephalitis can enter the body in this way. After removing the tick, wipe the bite area with cotton wool soaked in alcohol and wash your hands. Place the tick in a glass dish, seal with a stopper, and take it to the local health and epidemiological station. Based on the studies carried out, a decision is made on further tactics: the introduction of anti-tick immunoglobulin or prophylaxis with rimantadine.

Be attentive to yourself and to the “living” nature around us!

Draw your attention to! The information presented in the article is for informational purposes and does not call for self-diagnosis, self-treatment and influence on your body by any means. Only a qualified specialist (doctor, trainer, nutritionist, etc.) can make a diagnosis, prescribe (recommend) treatment and medications or dietary supplements, give recommendations on nutrition and training, and also control the treatment process (weight loss, training), focusing on a particular person and based on his individual characteristics.

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