Paraličova et al.
Outbreak of alimentary tick-borne encephalitis in Eastern Slovakia: An analysis of affected patients and long-term outcomes
Pathogens. 2022; 11(4):433. doi:10.3390/pathogens11040433
Slovakia is known to have the highest rate of alimentary TBE virus infections in Europe (e.g., see review discussion Snapshot week 8/2022).
In May 2016, an outbreak occurred in eastern Slovakia after the consumption of non-pasteurized sheep cheese with an exceptional high number of infected individuals.
A total of 44 individuals got ill and 36 patients were hospitalized; 25 patients (69%) had a biphasic clinical course of illness and 20 patients had severe disease. The average length of hospitalization was seven days. None of the patients died. All 36 hospitalized patients were TBE IgM-positive and 29 were also IgG sero-positive. The mean age of the patients was 48 years and only adults older than 19 years of age were hospitalized. None of the patients had received TBE vaccine.
Three years after acute illness, 13 of 27 patients who were contacted reported being well, while 14 individuals had long-term sequelae (like sleep disorders, memory disorders, psychiatric disorders, vertigo, etc.). The incidence of the late symptoms did not correlate with the severity of acute phase of the disease.
The findings of this study show that alimentary TBE virus infection can lead to severe disease and persistent discomfort (although it is discussed in Snapshot week 8/2022 that alimentary infections may be usually milder compared to tick-borne infections).