Tick-Born Encephalitis - Quick Glance Information

Because the ticks that cause Tick Encephalitis are very common during the Spring/Early Summer here in Kazakhstan it is important to protect yourself and your family from this Illness. The encephalitis ranges from a mild illness with head ache, fever, back ache to a severe illness including paralysis, convulsions, coma to a deadly illness. The good news is that it can be prevented by receiving the Tick Encephalitis Vaccine! Get vaccinated 4-6 months before tick season for maximum protection.

How to get vaccinated:

Vaccine is safe and effective (95-98% effective) and for patients 18 years and older.Contraindications for vaccine are those who have had previous allergy to tick encephalitis vaccine or any allergy to eggs.Vaccine against tick encephalitis is available at the:International Medical Center 378-64-64, Mukanova 235

If not previously vaccinated, a series of three shots- 2nd one month after first and 3rd is one year laterIf you have already been vaccinated it is recommended to be revaccinated every 3 years.The vaccine takes 4-6 months to reach its maximum effectiveness so you need to be vaccinated 4-6 months before the tick bite for it to help maximally. After a tick bite it is not helpful!

How to prevent the disease:

Get vaccinated! This prevents the illness  98% of the time and allows you to enjoy being in the woods/mountains.Stay out of grassy, wooded or mountainous areas from late April till early July if you have not been vaccinated against tick encephalitis.If you do go out to grassy, wooded or mountainous areas wear long sleeve shirt, hat, long pants tucked into socks. Insect repellant on exposed skin is also helpful.Check clothing and entire body after being out in the woods. Remove ticks early as they take some time to bite and burrow into skin. Ticks can stay on clothing and attach later!

Tick Encephalitis- More Detailed Information

Tick Encephalitis is a viral illness carried by a very common tick here in Kazakhstan that causes a mild to severe and even fatal disease in humans and animals. Symptoms of illness start 1-3 weeks after a tick bite and range from mild (head ache, fever, back ache, vomiting) to severe (paralysis, disorientation, convulsions, severe head and back pain, coma) to deadly. There are also several complications possible including nerve, muscle and brain damage. There is no specific effective treatment after a person contracts the disease so prevention is of utmost importance.Transmission is through bites of ticks that are infected with the virus. The longer a tick is attached the higher the probability of contracting the disease. Squeezing on tick that is attached increases the amount of virus injected. The virus travels directly from blood stream to central nervous system (spinal cord and brain). The virus is also transmitted through fresh cow’s/goat’s milk in a cow/goat that has been infected. Boiling or pasteurizing of the milk kills the virus.

KEY FACTS:

  • ticks live in wooded or mountainous areasticks are more concentrated close to trails/paths that animals and humans use
  • 1-20% of ticks carry the virus that causes encephalitisit is unknown what percent of people who are bitten by a tick contract the illness
  • 2-20% of those who contract the illness will die from it
  • 30-80% of people who contract encephalitis will have continued physical/mental handicaps following illness
  • 75% of those who contract the illness are city citizens who go to mountain or wooded areas
  • Almaty is an endemic (high incidence) area for tick encephalitisthe number of ticks and the number of tick bites reported increases each year in and around Almaty ticks can be active all year and carry the virus all year but are most active between late April- early July2009 Almaty Date: 1,000 patients with tick bites, 8 of these patients developed encephalitis

What to do if you have a tick bite or a tick is attached to you:

Apply petroleum jelly or vegetable oil to the tick in order to remove it easier. Have a doctor remove the tick. Do not squeeze the tick by the body.If you are bitten by tick, take the tick to the Hospital #12, 4 or 7 so they can identify the tick. Children should be taken to Hospital #1 (Children’s).Go to 12th Hospital (Chapaeva/Djandosova) or 4 or 7 and get the immunoglobulin if you have not previously been immunized with the vaccine at least twice. Go to emergency room located at 2nd entrance to the left (preyomnee pokoi). You need to receive the immunoglobulin within 4 days of the tick bite (the earlier the better).Immunoglobulin are active antibodies made from human or horse serum that attack the virus.  With this immunoglobulin there is risk of allergic reaction including skin and breathing difficulty. Anaphylactic shock (life threatening allergy) is rare but a risk. Stay at the hospital 30 minutes after this immunoglobulin shot for observation! This is not a vaccine and will not prevent illness with future bites. This is the only treatment and there are no studies on it’s effectiveness but it is routinely recommended around the world in endemic areas and is most likely helpful.If you have been immunized and have several tick bites it is also recommended that you receive the immunoglobulin.

Other resources:

www.Almaty.kz - Almaty city health department web Site

www.kz-today.kz - Kazakhstan today web site

www.almoblzses.kz - Almaty oblast public health site