Many people confuse tickborne encephalitis with lyme disease. While both are risks to the health of thousands of people, the two types of disease do differ from one another. To understand the difference between tickborne encephalitis and lyme disease, it’s important to first understand what each disease is.
Tickborne encephalitis (TBE) is a type of disease that is transmitted to humans through the bite of a tick or mosquito, according to Columbia University Irving Medical Center. While ticks on their own don’t cause the disease, they do carry it. TBE is a type of viral infection that can affect a person’s spinal cord and brain, which is why there is growing concern around the disease. This means that those infected with TBE can suffer from permanent brain damage, mental impairment or paralysis.
Symptoms of TBE often don’t show, but if a person does experience symptoms, they will typically come in two phases. The first phase includes fever, muscle pain, fatigue, and other flu-like symptoms. The second phase consists of meningitis, myelitis or encephalitis.
While both TBE and lyme disease are transmitted to humans through ticks and can have long-term effects, unlike TBE, lyme disease is not a virus. Instead, lyme disease is a bacterial infection. Ticks that cause lyme disease also need to be attached to a human for about 36 to 48 hours to transmit the disease.
Both diseases are similar in how they are transmitted and that they can have serious effects, but they do have differences. Unlike TBE, lyme disease usually does come with symptoms that are easy to pinpoint, such as a red “bullseye” rash. This rash often has a clear center. While this symptom doesn’t necessarily occur in everyone who contracts lyme disease, it is a well-known symptom of the bacterial infection.
Another difference is that as a viral infection, there isn’t a specific treatment method for TBE. But unlike TBE, as a bacterial infection, lyme disease can use antibiotics for treatment.
If you’re planning on traveling to an area that’s known to have lots of ticks, there are preventative measures you can take to help stay safe. If you haven’t already, consider getting the vaccine for TBE. This will protect you against TBE. There is no vaccine against lyme disease for humans.
But, you can still protect yourself against ticks, which will reduce your chances of getting Lyme disease. You can do this by using insect repellent, wearing clothing, such as socks, that contain insecticide, and by wearing protective clothing that covers your skin, such as long sleeve shirts, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
While most ticks aren’t infected with TBE, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when you’re traveling out-of-country.
Passport Health offers repellents, tick-borne encephalitis vaccines and more to help you travel safely. Call or book online to schedule your appointment today.
Written for Passport Health by Elle Johnson. Elle is a freelance journalist and social media content creator in Florida. Not only does she enjoy working as a freelancer, but in her free time she enjoys working on fictional stories.