Riccó et al.
Tick-borne encephalitis virus vaccination among tourists in a high-prevalence area (Italy, 2023): A cross-sectional study
Trop Med Infect Dis. 2023;8(11):491. doi:10.3390/tropicalmed8110491

Italy is considered at low risk for TBE. However, 94.1% of the 213 TBE cases reported from 2017 to 2023 were clustered in the subalpine autonomous provinces Trento and Bolzano and the northeastern regions of Veneto and Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, known as “Triveneto”. Some TBE foci within the Triveneto exceed a notification rate of 5/100,000, which indicates that these areas are at high risk according to the assessment of the WHO. Some high-risk areas have been identified in the Dolomite Mountains, a popular holiday destination. Little is known about the awareness of TBE among tourists in the Dolomite area.

A cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey has been carried out from March to June 2023 to assess tourists’ awareness of TBE, their self-perceived risk of TBE virus infection, and their acceptance of the TBE vaccine.

Around 69% of the respondents had an educational achievement at university level and about 30% had any occupational background in healthcare settings. More than 50% perceived the frequency of TBE virus infections as high/very high for the Dolomite region, nearly 80% acknowledged TBE as a serious disorder, and less than 6% assessed the severity of side effects associated with the TBE vaccine as high.

28.3% of the respondents were vaccinated against TBE, of whom 38.5% were residents in a high-risk area. The vaccination rate was lower among younger adults. 18.6% of those not being vaccinated did not know that a TBE vaccine exists. Only 2.4% of the non-vaccinated persons complained about the high costs of TBE vaccine.

Overall, 67.3% of participants reported at least one prevention measure against tick bites; the single most frequently reported intervention was tucking pants into socks or boots (42.3%), followed by use of repellents (25.0%); however, checking the body was never reported.

Overall, the study showed that tourists to the Dolomite Mountains, collectively exhibit an extensive lack of knowledge of TBE and TBE virus with inappropriate risk awareness.

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