Tick-borne encephalitis: an increasing threat in Europe

Tick-borne encephalitis, caused by the tick-borne encephalitis virus, is a rapidly emerging disease in Western, Central and Northern Europe, affecting dogs and people with potentially fatal consequences. This rapid spread, alongside the presence of the Ixodes ricinus vector throughout the UK, had led to concerns that it may become endemic through introduction of infected ticks on imported animals or on migratory birds. This was realised last year when evidence of endemic foci in the UK was demonstrated, particularly in Thetford Forest. This article reviews current information on tick-borne encephalitis, its distribution in Europe and the risk it poses to UK dogs and their owners.