Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a viral disease of the central nervous system. The disease agent, i.e. the TBE virus (TBEV), is transmitted to man by tick bites.
Lyme disease is another tick-borne disease of similar epidemiologic dimensions in Central Europe. It can be managed by the administration of antibiotics if diagnosed in time, whereas no effective therapy exists against TBE.
The virus persists in so-called natural foci, where it circulates among vertebrate hosts (mainly rodents) and the arthropod host (tick). Years of observation of the distribution of TBE incidence suggest that such natural foci are relatively stable.
The population's increased mobility and recreational activities have markedly enhanced the risk of infection for holidaymakers, which should not be underrated. Therefore, also doctors who are not working in a TBE area should be informed of endemic areas in countries where their patients go on holiday. Today the risk of infection is no longer limited to a few particularly exposed occupational groups.
MORITSCH and KRAUSLER noted the marked seasonal peaks of disease incidence in early summer and called it "spring-summer meningoencephalitis". The name "tick-borne encephalitis" refers to the tick, its main vector.
||Synonyms for TBE
"Central European encephalitis" points to the prevalence of the disease in this part of Europe.
This form of encephalitis had been observed much earlier in the USSR and, thus, the terms "Far East Russian, Taiga, or Russian spring-summer encephalitis" were coined.
The term "biundulating meningoencephalitis" is derived from the diphasic course of the disease, and "diphasic milk fever" is based on cases in which the disease agent was transmitted by the alimentary route through raw milk from infected domestic animals.
"Kumlinge disease" refers to the incidence of TBE on Kumlinge, an island in the southwest of Finland.
Finally, "Schneider's disease" is a patronymic name of the disease in view of the observations made by SCHNEIDER back in the late 1920s when he described the clinical picture of TBE in the Neunkirchen area (Lower Austria). Shortly afterwards, it was observed in the Far East of the former USSR, and from 1939 onwards also in its European part. In 1948, the virus was isolated for the first time outside the former USSR. In subsequent years, TBE was identified in most European countries. In several European states no TBE cases have been reported as yet; among these are Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Spain, and Portugal.