Image: ©Mufid Majnu

Employee vaccination: tick-borne encephalitis

People who are regularly bitten by ticks in the course of their work should be offered vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis by their employer. This was the recommendation made by the Health Council in an advisory report to the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment.

Tick-borne encephalitis is an infectious disease caused by the tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus. People can contract the virus from a tick bite. In most cases, people experience no symptoms, or only mild, flu-like symptoms. In some cases, meningitis or encephalitis can occur, which can lead to symptoms that persist for a long time, or, in rare cases, death.

People whose work often takes them to wooded areas, dunes, heathland, parks and gardens are at greater risk of a tick bite and thus infection with the TBE virus. The Health Council recommends that employees who are regularly bitten by ticks (five time or more per year) be offered vaccination against TBE. The Council also recommends that vaccination be offered to employees who could have direct contact with the TBE virus, in a laboratory for example.

Because the risk of TBE from a tick bite is extremely low in the Netherlands, there is no TBE vaccination programme for the general population. Individuals may choose to be vaccinated at their own expense, for example if they intend to travel to a high-risk area.