Jenkins et al.
The epidemiology of infectious diseases in Europe in 2020 versus 2017-2019 and the rise of tick-borne encephalitis (1995-2020)
Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2022;13(5):101972. doi:10.1016/j.ttbdis.2022.101972
Over the 25-year period from 1995 to 2020, the number of reported TBE cases trended upwards across European countries.
In 2020, compared to the previous three years 2017–2019, there was a significant increase of reported TBE cases in the following European countries: Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Belgium, Denmark, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Finland, Norway, and Lithuania. The highest increase was seen in the three neighboring countries Austria (88%), Switzerland (51%) and Germany (48%).
However, in 2020, decreases were also observed, e.g., Sweden and Poland, and for the latter country, an underreporting might be suggested by limited diagnostic testing due to overburdened healthcare resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In six European countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic), the incidence even exceeded 5 cases / 100,000 persons, a value defined as highly endemic by the World Health Organization.
While many infectious diseases (e.g., meningococcal disease, Haemophilus influenzae B, travel related diseases) were fewer reported in 2020 due to various COVID-19-related mitigation effects, the increase in reported TBE cases may be caused by several different factors like environmental, weather, climate-related conditions, and also human behavior, e.g., increased outdoor activities.
As discussed several times (see e.g., Newsletter July 2022), compliance to TBE vaccination is low and awareness for TBE is insufficient among population and physicians and therefore must be raised.
An article dealing with the same topic has recently been published:
Zając et al. Incidence of tick-borne encephalitis during the COVID-19 pandemic in selected European countries. J Clin Med. 2022; 11(3):803. doi:10.3390/jcm11030803