Cases of tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease up

More cases of Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) have been diagnosed this year compared to the past few. Cases per capita most numerous in Saaremaa and Hiiumaa.

Health Board data suggests 16 new cases of TBE and 224 cases of Lyme disease were diagnosed in Estonia last week.

Irina Dontšenko, adviser at the epidemiology department of the agency, told ERR that total Lyme disease diagnoses for this year numbered 1,611 at the start of the week for an increase of 38 percent on year. Cases of TBE for 2023 number 95, up 20 percent.

She suggested that people going foraging for mushrooms and berries in the woods during the season is a contributing factor.

The Health Board said that the prevalence of tick-borne disease depends on the arachnids' numbers, which tend to be higher after mild winters.

The average Lyme disease case rate in Estonia is 166.6 per 100,000 residents. It is four times higher in Hiiumaa, three times higher in Saaremaa and double the national average in Lääne County.

Tick-borne encephalitis hits 7.1 residents per 100,000 on average. The rate is five times that in Saaremaa, three times in Võru County and 2.5 times in Pärnu County.

Dontšenko urged people to exercise caution when moving in nature, including by using bug repellents, wearing light clothing and checking themselves for ticks upon returning. It is important to remove ticks from the skin early as Lyme disease can start affecting the body just a few hours after the bite.


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Editor: Karin Koppel, Marcus Turovski

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