Outdoor enthusiasts visiting central and eastern Europe in 2006 are being warned about a potentially life-threatening disease.
The Tick Alert campaign urges travellers to 16 European countries, including new popular destinations for outdoor tourism such as Croatia, Slovenia and Slovakia, to protect against Tick Borne Encephalitis (TBE).
TBE is a potentially life-threatening viral disease that can lead to meningitis and in serious cases can result in paralysis and death. It is transmitted via the bite of an infected tick, found typically in rural and forest areas up to a height of 3,000ft and occurs mainly during the late spring and throughout summer. The disease can also be transmitted by the ingestion of unpasteurised milk.
Tourism to rural and woodland areas of endemic countries in Europe is increasing the risk to visiting UK outdoor enthusiasts, the majority of whom remain unaware of the disease, how it is contracted or that they are members of a high-risk travel group.
The Foreign Office advises that travellers to TBE endemic regions seek inoculation advice from their local surgery or clinic well before travelling.
Details and a map of TBE endemic countries are available at www.masta.org/tickalert