RKI publishes new map of TBE risk areas in 2017

In this year's Epidemiological Bulletin, the Robert Koch Institute did not add any further groups to the existing 146, although the number of TBE cases increased by 59 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year. As a result, the TBE risk areas continue to be largely in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, southern Hesse and southeastern Thuringia. There are also risk areas in Central Hesse (LK Marburg-Biedenkopf), Rhineland-Palatinate (LK Birkenfeld), Saarland (Saar-Pfalz-Kreis) and Saxony (Vogtlandkreis). In March, researchers also demonstrated for the first time that not only the common woodbuck but also the riparian tick can transmit the TBE virus when it stings.

Early summer meningoencephalitis, FSME1 for short, is subject to notification. If TBE is recognized by a doctor, he must report it to the health authority, which in turn forwards it to the state authority. The Robert Koch Institute collects this reporting data, evaluates it and defines TBE risk areas.

The epidemiological bulletin states: "TBE risk areas are endemic areas of the TBE that contain a risk of disease for people exposed to ticks, which, according to an agreement by experts, justifies preventive measures." Since 2002, the Robert Koch Institute has been reporting data. Two things have been shown: First, the number of cases fluctuates from year to year. In 2016, for example, the number of cases was 59 percent higher than in 2015: Here, “the interaction of ecological and climatic factors was probably particularly favorable for the spread of ticks, the virus within its natural focus and / or human exposure. In particular in circles with a particularly high TBE disease burden [...], the benefits of TBE vaccination should be clarified in order to achieve higher vaccination rates. This could prevent the majority of diseases in Germany. ”2 Second, the risk also depends on how people behave in their free time and how well they take care of themselves.

What does good provision look like?
There are a few simple precautions against tick bites. Long clothes offer less surface to attack. If you pull the socks over the hem of your pants, you also prevent the small parasites from crawling along the inside of your pants. Anti-tick sprays reduce the risk of stinging for a few hours, but must be applied regularly. And a thorough search for ticks should be part of every outdoor stay. There is also a vaccine against TBE that can help reduce the risk of TBE virus infection after a tick bite.

According to the Epidemiological Bulletin, a low vaccination rate, also in the already existing TBE risk areas, is one of the reasons for the high number of cases in 2016: "A high proportion of TBE diseases that occur could increase vaccination rates, especially in risk areas with particularly high TBE Incidence can be prevented. ”The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommends vaccination to people who are exposed to ticks in TBE risk areas. Either because they live there or are on short notice, for example on vacation.

The Auwaldzecke as a new TBE transmitter
This spring tick researchers made public that another tick species can transmit the TBE virus: the riparian tick. So far, it has only been proven that the common woodbuck is the carrier and carrier of the TBE virus. “The name of the riparian tick is very misleading. The tick does not actually occur in alluvial forests, ”Dr. med Gerhard Dobler from. Similar to the common woodbuck, it occurs in forest and meadow zones as well as near water.

The Auwaldzecke has migrated from south-east European countries in the past 20 years and is widespread in Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. Unlike the woodbuck, the riparian tick is hardly active in the summer months, but from February to May and from September to November. "This extends the period of transmission of the TBE into late autumn and late winter." According to Dr. Dobler so far unclear and has yet to be clarified.

1 The early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE) virus can be transmitted to animals and humans by ticks when stinging and can cause inflammation of the meninges and the central nervous system.
2 Robert Koch Institute: Epidemiological Bulletin No. 17, April 27, 2017.

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