Symptoms of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)

Learn about the symptoms of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), what to look for and what to do if you become ill.

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What are the symptoms of tick-borne encephalitis?

Most infected people do not show symptoms.

For those who have symptoms, they will usually take 4 to 28 days to appear. Symptoms usually appear faster (within 3 to 4 days) if the disease is spread through milk or milk products.

The symptoms often appear in 2 phases.

In the first phase, the symptoms are similar to the flu, including:

  • fever
  • tiredness
  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • vomiting

These symptoms usually last from 1 to 8 days.

In the second phase, the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) is affected. Symptoms can include:

  • encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
  • confusion
  • paralysis (not being able to move)
  • meningitis (swelling of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord)
  • myelitis (swelling of the spinal cord)

The severity of the illness can increase with age.

In more severe cases, complications during the second phase may cause long-term brain, spine or nerve damage. This can cause:

  • memory loss
  • hearing loss
  • loss of coordination
  • death (in some cases)

What do you do if you become ill?

If you develop symptoms of TBE, contact your health care provider right away.

Make sure to tell your health care provider your full travel history. This includes:

  • which countries you have visited
  • whether you participated in outdoor activities
  • whether you ate or drank unpasteurized milk or milk products

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