Epidemiological situation of tick-borne encephalitis in the European Union and European Free Trade Association countries

Surveillance and monitoring

The report summarises existing information on the occurrence of TBE to obtain a better understanding of the current magnitude of TBE in the European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries. The specific objectives are to characterise the different reporting systems for TBE in EU/EFTA countries; to identify and assess the current epidemiological situation for TBE; identify key risk areas for the disease and provide ECDC with data into its study on burden of disease. The report is a first effort to collect existing data on TBE in EU/EFTA countries. The data, covering the period 2000–2010, were collected from different sources.

Executive summary

ECDC publishes today a report on the epidemiological situation of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) and TBE surveillance systems in EU and EFTA. It has epidemiological data for the period 2000 – 2010, for 20 out of 30 EU/EFTA countries, including ‘country profiles’ for each of the countries that implemented TBE surveillance.

The report identifies key risk areas for the disease and contains recommendations for improving the TBE surveillance and prevention in Europe.

The main risk areas and groups for TBE are:

  • Baltic and Nordic countries and central and eastern Europe - extending west as far as Switzerland and Alsace, France, and southern Europe up to northern Italy and the Balkans
  • Males aged 40-–60 years, indicating those working outdoors may be at greater risk
  • June to October, a seasonal peak over the summer.

Surveillance systems for TBE are implemented in the majority of EU/EFTA countries (20 out of 30). However, significant differences exist among them, making it difficult to compare national data at EU level. The ECDC’s report suggests that national and regional public health authorities improve and harmonise the TBE surveillance systems. It also recommends particular measures, such as the implementation of a standard EU case definition and routine collection of surveillance data from EU countries.

TBE has been recently added to the list of notifiable diseases within the EU and a standard EU case definition for TBE has been agreed and approved and will be published soon.

To foster TBE prevention in Europe, the report proposes developing vaccination recommendations for residents and travellers to affected areas. More precise information about areas at potential risk and the best way to avoid tick bites, as well as vaccination availability for residents and travellers to affected areas are also needed.

The report is the first attempt to systematically collect and compile existing surveillance data on TBE in EU/EFTA countries. Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a viral tick-borne infectious disease that occurs in endemic areas across large regions of Europe. Over the last decades, the number of TBE cases in Europe increased and affected areas spread.


TBE-in-EU-EFTA.pdf - EN - [PDF-3.17 MB]

Publication data

TBE Cases by year: Number of TBE cases, regardless of the applied case definition, by year reported in 16 EU/EFTA countries, 2000–2010 (n= 29 381)

Period: 01 Jan 2000 - 01 Jan 2010

During the 2000–2010 period, the overall number of reported TBE cases (all case definitions combined) stayed relatively stable, with notable increases in 2003, 2006 and 2009–2010. The Czech Republic reported 25% of all reported cases, Lithuania 15%, Latvia and Germany 11% each and Slovenia 10%.