Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Symptoms

  • Many people infected with tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus do not have symptoms.
  • For people with symptoms, the time from tick bite to feeling sick is usually about 7 to 14 days, but can range from about 4 to 28 days.
  • Severe disease often occurs including infection 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 (known as “biphasic illness”).

Diagnosis

  • Healthcare providers diagnose TBE virus infection based on
    • Signs and symptoms
    • Travel history and possible exposure to ticks while traveling
    • Laboratory testing of blood or spinal fluid
  • More information on diagnostic testing is available here.

Treatment

  • There is no medication to treat TBE virus infection.
  • People with severe disease often need to be hospitalized to receive support for breathing, staying hydrated, or reducing swelling in the brain.
  • If you think you or a family member might have TBE, see your healthcare provider.
  • To learn more about treatment, visit our Healthcare Provider page.