Lithuania remains with highest rate of tick-borne encephalitis in Europe

The rate of tick-borne encephalitis in Lithuania remains the highest in Europe, announced the country’s Center for Communicable Diseases and AIDS (ULAC) on Tuesday.

According to ULAC, the rate of tick-borne encephalitis cases was 16.6 cases per 100,000 population in 2017, based on the latest data provided by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in its latest annual epidemiological report.

“In Lithuania the rate of encephalitis remains the highest in Europe,” said ULAC.

Lithuania was followed by the Czech Republic and Estonia with the rate of 6.4 cases per 100,000 population, according to ULAC.

ULAC notes the largest proportion of tick-borne encephalitis cases is at the age group of 45-64 years and the lowest among the children of the age of 0-4 years.

“ULAC medics remind vaccination is the most reliable protection from tick-borne encephalitis,” said ULAC in the announcement, noting vaccines have a reliability rate of 98 percent.

ULAC’s warning comes amid increasing number of tick-borne encephalitis cases this year in Lithuania, a Baltic country with a population of around 3 million.

More than 90 cases of tick-borne encephalitis were reported during the first half of the year in Lithuania, one third more compared to the same period last year, according to local data by ULAC.

According to the ECDC’s report, the highest prevalence of tick-borne encephalitis historically is found in the Baltic countries. Tick-borne encephalitis usually reaches its seasonal peak during the warmest months — July and August.

Tick-borne encephalitis is a human viral infectious disease of central nervous system caused by infected ticks, usually found in woodland habitats. The disease manifests itself with symptoms similar to fever, fatigue, headache, nausea and can cause meningitis.