Tick-borne Encephalitis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Key points

  • Tick-borne encephalitis can result in febrile illness or neurologic disease, including meningitis or encephalitis.
  • If you think you or a family member might have tick-borne encephalitis, talk with your health care provider.
  • There is no specific treatment for tick-borne encephalitis.
  • Rest, fluids, and pain medications may relieve symptoms.
Person holding a thermometer


Many people infected with tick-borne encephalitis virus do not have symptoms. For people with symptoms, the time from tick bite to feeling sick (incubation period) is usually about 7 to 14 days, but can range from about 4 to 28 days.

  • Severe disease often occurs including inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or the membranes around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis).
    • Initial symptoms can include fever, headache, vomiting, and weakness.
    • A few days later, severe symptoms can develop including confusion, loss of coordination, difficulty speaking, weakness of the arms or legs, and seizures.
    • Sometimes initial symptoms last a few days and completely resolve, but then about a week later the more severe symptoms develop. This is referred to as a biphasic illness.


If you think you or a family member might have tick-borne encephalitis, see your healthcare provider.

  • Healthcare providers diagnose tick-borne encephalitis virus infection based on:
    • Signs and symptoms
    • Travel history and possible exposure to ticks while traveling
    • Laboratory testing of blood or spinal fluid
  • Your healthcare provider can order tests to look for tick-borne encephalitis virus infection or other infections that can cause similar symptoms.

To learn more about testing, visit our Healthcare Providers page.


  • There is no medication to treat tick-borne encephalitis virus infection. However, a vaccine is available to prevent infection; visit our tick-borne encephalitis vaccine page for more information about who the vaccine is recommended for.
  • Rest, fluids, and over-the-counter pain medications may relieve some symptoms.
  • People with severe disease often need to be hospitalized to receive support for breathing, staying hydrated, or reducing swelling in the brain.

To learn more about treatment, visit our Healthcare Provider page.