Family Holidays Risk Deadly Tick Disease among Children

The world’s experts on a potentially life-threatening tick disease are warning that families with young children are more at risk than ever when travelling in Europe this summer.

Leading scientists have confirmed that Tick Borne Encephalitis (TBE), which can lead to meningitis and in serious cases result in paralysis and death, is now endemic in 27 countries across mainland Europe, an increase of eleven on 2006.

The Tick Alert campaign warns UK travellers to check risk areas and seek further information and advice.

Ticks carrying the disease are found in many holiday destinations growing in popularity such as Croatia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia and have now spread to parts of established holiday spots such as Italy, Greece and France.

Research shows that TBE is more common in boys than girls and is increasingly affecting the 0-3 age group.

Professor Michael Kunze, of the Medical University Vienna, Austria and a leading expert in the prevention of TBE, said, “The incidence among children increases with age, with boys showing a higher incidence than girls in all age groups. It is advisable for parents to obtain medical advice before travelling into endemic areas. It is estimated that there are over 10,000 cases each year in endemic countries.” 

TBE-infected ticks are found typically in rural and forest areas from late spring and throughout summer. At-risk groups include all visitors to rural areas of endemic countries, particularly those participating in outdoor activities such as trekking, hiking, climbing, cycling and camping.

Tick diseases are not only found abroad. Families planning camping and activity holidays in rural areas of the UK are being urged to protect against Lyme disease, which is reckoned to affect 2,000 people every year.

A number of measures can be taken to reduce the risk of tick infection: using an insect repellent, wearing trousers and long-sleeved clothing to cover all areas of exposed skin, regularly inspecting for tick bites and carefully removing any found. TBE can also be transmitted by the ingestion of unpasteurised milk, which should be avoided.

Further information on the endemic regions of Europe and latest advice for travellers is available at

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