New cases of TBE in Tisvilde Hegn and on the island of Falster

In the period from June to mid-August 2020, Statens Serum Institut detected three TBE cases in patients who, with great certainty, were bitten by ticks in Tisvilde Hegn and the surrounding areas, but beyond the area where the natural playground is located. Additionally, a patient has become infected with TBE on the island of Falster.

In 2019, Tisvilde Hegn and the surrounding areas were identified as a new TBE risk area. In the period from September to June 2019, four patients were thus diagnosed with TBE after being bitten with great certainty by TBEV-infected ticks in and around Tisvilde Hegn.

Read EPI-NEWS 34/35-2020

Discovered TBE ticks

The SSI and the University of Copenhagen detected TBE in ticks from a popular natural playground in the north-eastern part of Tisvilde Hegn in 2019 as well as 2020. The ticks were collected by so-called “flagging”, i.e. dragging a piece of cloth across the vegetation. 

In June, it was therefore decided to close the natural playground completely and to move it to a TBE-free area.

Four persons infected

Following this measure, the period from June to mid-August 2020 brought an additional three cases of TBE in this area. All cases were observed in patients who very likely were bitten by ticks in Tisvilde Hegn and surroundings, beyond the area with the natural playground. The four patients are adults aged 40-76 years:

“The cases include three persons moving beyond the paths of the area while residing in the area, having stayed in a holiday residence or having stayed in the woods for a brief period of time. All of them have been admitted to hospital with typical TBE symptoms,” notes Staff Specialist Peter Henrik Andersen from the SSI.

The fourth TBE-infectee is a woman in her 60s from the island of Falster who was bitten by a tick in May, but who does not recall where she was when the bite occurred. She has only visited local woods on the island of Falster and has not been to Tisvilde Hegn or any other areas where TBE ticks have been found.

TBE vaccination

In Denmark, the island of Bornholm and Tisvilde Hegn and surrounding areas are considered TBE risk areas.

“TBE vaccination should be considered particularly for persons who regularly spend time and who walk beyond established paths in woods and shrubbery, e.g., forestry workers, hunters, orienteers, mushroom and berry pickers and people who regularly engage in play, sports or other activities in the woods,” explains Peter Henrik Andersen.

The condition is spreading

The new case recently detected on the island of Falster indicates that TBE is still spreading geographically, in Denmark as well as in the rest of Europe.

”We must therefore accept that more and more TBE risk areas may appear across Denmark,” notes Peter Henrik Andersen.