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Danish disease agency calm over tick-borne encephalitis

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Danish disease agency calm over tick-borne encephalitis
Senior official with Danish infectious disease control agency SSI, Tyra Grove Krause, said that only limited groups should consider a TCE vaccination after an apparent spread of ticks carrying the virus. File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is only recommended for a limited number of people in North Zealand and on Bornholm, the national infectious disease agency State Serum Institute (SSI) says.

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Ticks carrying the disease have recently spread in the North Zealand area but widespread vaccinations are not needed, the agency’s medical director Tyra Grove Krause said on Wednesday.

“We have only seen a very small increase. TBE is still a rare disease to get in Denmark and is found in some very limited areas,” she said.

Only people who spend extended time in forests near Tisvilde Hegn as well as on the island of Bornholm should consider vaccination, she said. This could include foresters, mushroom foragers and trail runners, she said.

Ticks (skovflåter) can be found all over Denmark in forests, meadows, and long grass. They are particularly active during the summer months and increase in number if the weather has been warm and humid.

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Tick-borne encephalitis is a rare viral brain infection caused by a particular tick bite. Flu-like symptoms can occur a week or more after the bite and can develop to include nausea, dizziness, and in around a third of cases, severe problems. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about ticks in Denmark and how to avoid them

In Denmark, TBE cases tend to only occur on Baltic Sea island Bornholm, where there are around three cases a year.

However, media TV2 recently reported that ticks bearing the TBE virus had spread in Denmark and had been found in areas of North Zealand including Hareskovem and Hørsholm, as well as Tisvilde Hegn.

In Denmark, a TBE vaccination is generally recommended for people who travel regularly in areas with TBE.

Interest in the vaccine has soared since the reports it had spread to a larger area of Zealand.

“On Constitution Day (June 5th, ed.) we gave as many vaccinations as we did in the whole of May,” Copenhagen Medicals operations manager Lars Orlamundt told local media Sjællandske Nyheder.

The Greater Copenhagen regional health authority called for SSI to issue “very clear and precise guidelines for the region and residents”, elected official for the regional administration, Christoffer Buster Reinhardt, told the media.

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