VIENNA, Austria, February 5 /PRNewswire/ -- A workshop organized by the International Scientific Working Group on Tick-Borne Encephalitis (ISW-TBE), held in Baden/Vienna, aims at raising public awareness of TBE and informs on the effectiveness of vaccination. Tick-borne encephalitis, a viral disease transmitted by infected ticks, can leave infected persons with permanent sequelae. The case fatality rate is 1-2%.

Event tourism and TBE

Over the past three decades, TBE has become a growing public health problem, with some 13,000 cases of TBE every year. At the same time, travel movements from non-endemic to high-risk areas are on the rise, with event tourism playing an important role. TBE is endemic in regions of 27 European countries, mostly of Central and Eastern, but also Northern Europe and new foci of TBE are detected every year. The host countries of the 2008 European Soccer Championship, Austria and Switzerland, are among the high risk areas for TBE, but "there is still a lack of awareness among most of the European public regarding the potential risk when traveling to TBE endemic areas," complains DDr. Martin Haditsch, Institute of Hygiene, Microbiology and Tropical Medicine, Linz, Austria. "Vaccination is recommended to everyone traveling to TBE endemic areas," explains Prof. Michael Kunze, Chairman of the ISW-TBE.

Fighting TBE - an Austrian story of success

Austria is the country with the highest TBE vaccination rate in Europe. 88 percent of Austrians have had at least one TBE vaccination. "As a result, the annual numbers of new TBE infections in Austria have dropped to about 10% of the levels registered in the pre-vaccination era - even though Austria's neighboring countries have witnessed a dramatic increase in TBE infections", explains Prof. Franz Xaver Heinz, Institute of Virology, Medical University Vienna, Austria.

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Michael Leitner, Public Health PR-Projektgesellschaft mbH

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For questions, please contact: Michael Leitner, Public Health PR-Projektgesellschaft mbH; Tel: +43(0)1-602-05-30-0, Email: