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Tick season in Denmark: Demand for TBE vaccine soars in parts of country

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Tick season in Denmark: Demand for TBE vaccine soars in parts of country
Ticks are prevalent in forested areas of Denmark. Photo: Ingrid Riis/Ritzau Scanpix

People in Copenhagen and surrounding areas of Zealand have increasingly sought vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) after an increase in ticks in parts of the countryside.

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Baltic Sea island Bornholm is the part of Denmark most known to be a risk area for the rare, but dangerous disease tick-borne encephalitis (TBE).

However, last year saw a rise in the number of people from Copenhagen, Greater Copenhagen and North Zealand seeking vaccination against the disease, according to figures released by the national disease control agency, State Serum Institute (SSI), reported by local media TV2 Kosmopol.

In North Zealand alone, the number of vaccinations increased last year from around 500 to 2,000 per 100,000 residents.

Nationally, 89,000 doses were given last year according to SSI, around three times the expected amount.

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

The trend is expected to continue in 2024. The vaccination serice Danske Lægers Vaccinations Services has already administered 11,500 so far this year at its 47 clinics across the country. That is 3.5 times more than in the same period last year, with 75 percent of the vaccinations given on Zealand.

Walks in the countryside and trips to Sweden were given by patients requesting the vaccine, the company’s CEO Tanja Sølvkjær told TV 2 Kosmopol.

SSI states on its website that the primary risk areas in Denmark are still Bornholm and the rural North Zealand region of Tisvilde Hegn. However, there may also be some risk of TBE infection elsewhere on Zealand, the agency states.

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Head of department at SSI Peter Henrik Andersen said that while it is good that people are seeking vaccination against the virus, the right people must be vaccinated.

Vaccination may be relevant if you regularly visit forests where cases of TBE infection have been detected, he said.

SSI case mapping shows that five cases of TBE were detected on Bornholm last year, while there were two in Tisvilde Hegn and the surrounding area.

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.

In Denmark, the most common disease ticks transmit is Lyme disease, but ticks can also carry the very rare but dangerous TBE.

Only people who spend extended time in forests near Tisvilde Hegn as well as on the island of Bornholm should consider vaccination, SSI experts have previously said.

TBE is a 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 long-term problems or permanent neurological damage.

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