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Virus carried by ticks confirmed in the UK

The UK Health Security Agency has announced a case of tick-borne encephalitis in England for the first time, worrying deerstalkers

TBE is caused by a virus, but a vaccine is readily available

Concerns are being raised in the deerstalking community about tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). Towards the end of last year, a person in Yorkshire was confirmed to have contracted the disease — the first confirmed domestically acquired case of the virus. (Read about Lyme disease here.)

In an exclusive feature for the May issue of industry magazine Gun Trade News, regular ST contributor Al Gabriel calls for action to prevent widespread infection among the deerstalking community this season, adding: “It is horrifying that we now must contend with a disease that will kill or disable far more aggressively than Lyme disease.”

TBE, unlike Lyme disease, is caused by a virus and not a bacterium. The virus has five subtypes that are closely related to viruses that cause yellow fever and dengue fever. Most reports suggest that the version of the disease in Europe seems milder than TBE contracted in Asia. 

The worst forms of the disease involve inflammation of the brain and central nervous system, which can be rather nasty. Even those who survive the disease tend to have a significant number of neurological disabilities. The symptoms include severe headache, stiff neck, seizures, sudden confusion and change of behaviour, according to the UK Health Security Agency. TBE has a higher mortality rate than Lyme, at around 2% of cases.


The good news is that vaccines do exist and have been around for some time. This is a vaccine you would have been recommended to have if you were travelling to Asia, parts of Europe and Russia and planning to spend long periods of time outdoors or in rural areas. The vaccine for TBE is not available on the NHS, but you can pay for it at travel clinics. 

A full vaccination course requires three separate jabs, with several weeks or months in between. The first one should, technically, be administered a month prior to heading out, as you would for your summer travels. The first two vaccinations should protect you for up to a year, and a third jab would potentially take you up to three years. 

The jabs cost around £65 each, leaving stalkers looking at a potential £200 bill to ensure their good health while out and about this season.