Ticks in Austria are a major issue from the start of early Spring (March) to late Autumn (November) and are worse after mild winters. There are two main issues:
1) FSME, tick-borne meningo-encephalitis, a virus, against which there is a vaccine.
2) Lyme disease(borreliosis) a bacterial infection, with no vaccine here, but is treatable with antibiotics if caught early enough. If you develop a red ring around the bite, contact your GP urgently.
The ticks are everywhere, in the countryside, in the grass and can even drop from trees (including Vienna). If you are out and about in the garden or countryside, make sure to check yourself and others (especially children). The undetected bites are the problem.
There is a FSME vaccine readily available in Austria but it will not prevent Lyme disease. In tick season the vaccine is sometimes available for free or reduced rates at the Gesundheitamt. Some larger companies also offer it for free/reduced rates via occupational healthSozialministerium The Austrian Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection is responsible for the following fields: The health care system Initiatives for people with disabilities Consumer protection Public health and medical issues Care and support The rights of consumers and the protection of their health Senior citizens’ policy Social policy Social insurance . Check with your pharmacy or on your province’s websites (e.g. Ärztekammer) if there are any promotions being run (usually 1st February to 30th August). There may be some specific promotions for children too. Different health insurers also offer different discounts.
Contact your local pharmacy, GP or local council for advice; ENCEPUR and FSME-IMMUN (Pfizer) are common brands. It will take multiple doses to be fully covered if you have not previously been vaccinated. Typically, you buy the vaccine from the pharmacy and get your GP practice to administer it.
The recommended vaccination schedule by the SozialministeriumSozialministerium The Austrian Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection is responsible for the following fields: The health care system Initiatives for people with disabilities Consumer protection Public health and medical issues Care and support The rights of consumers and the protection of their health Senior citizens’ policy Social policy Social insurance is vaccine type specific:
- FSME-immun: 2nd dose after 1-3 months, 3rd dose 5-12 months after the 2nd dose.
- Encepur: 2nd dose after 1-3 months, 3rd dose 9-12 months after the 2nd dose
Ask about the “Fast Track”/” accelerated” immunisation and note you will also need regular boosters. Seek PROFESSIONAL medical advice, especially if you have had other vaccinations (e.g. COVID-19) as there may be a 14 day time span between vaccinations.
Avoid or minimise exposure to tick bites. This involves using insect repellents on your skin and wearing suitably long clothing (covering legs and arms)
According to EU regulations there are four repellant compounds, DEET, icaridin (Saltidin), ethyl butylacetylaminoproprionate (IR3535) and citriodiol. According to a 2011 paper DEET is less effective than icaridin or IR3535. Germany still recommends DEET, but be careful when applying DEET (especially around the face) and how it is stored.
For the garden, some have also recommended Tick Rolls. Putting these tick rolls out in early spring kills the majority off.
Some people have recommended Lavender Oil as a home remedy to deter the ticks. NOTE: This is NOT for removal
- Special tweezers are available from the pharmacy.
- Be careful removing the ticks and make sure you get the head out, not just the body.
- One un-verified tip is to keep the tweezers in the freezer. Firstly, it means you always know where they are when you need them and secondly, according to Tyrolean folklore the ticks do not like the cold and they are easier to remove with really cold tweezers.
- Clean the spot with a cotton bud dipped in franzbranntwein.
- Whatever you do, do not put anything on them like oil, alcohol, or plant extract to extract them.
- Do not forget to check your animals too, especially dogs.
- There may be a product (pill) called Bravecto which is available from vets, but may need to be administered multiple times (e.g. April and July).
- Specialist collars are also available, Frontline also comes recommended.
- Special Coconut oil has been recommended for dogs
- ‘normal’ bio coconut oil is OK for cats.
As usual, seek advice from a qualified vet
Practical Advice from a BiAthe Facebook groups Britishinaustria.net draws upon its two Facebook groups as a source of questions to address in FAQs or to refer to the authorities or to request clarification from government ministries or HM British Embassy. These groups can be found at: British in Austria: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BritishAustria British in Europe ~ Austria: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BritishinAustria Member
- Make sure you are vaccinated!
- Wear longer clothing.
- When you come home, the first thing you should do is get all your clothes off into the washing machine. Do not leave the little “blighters” to wander around your dirty washing or you will wonder why you find a bite several days after your walk.
- Wash / shower and do a full inspection afterwards. You will generally not feel them until they are dug in.
- Do not panic if you get bitten!
- If you do get bitten (remove the “blighter”) make a note where this is, either photo or a permanent marker and check regularly for signs of borreliosis (google and you will see the ring/bull’s eye).
- If you see signs of a ring or unsure go to your doctor for the antibiotic.
- Do NOT fear the great outdoors, go out and do the same the following weekend.
- AGES Ticks & Diseases Info
- ECDC Preventative Measures Ticks
- Vienna Tick Vaccination
- Ärztekammer für NÖ 2023 Promotion
- .GOV.UK Tick Information
- Zecken (DE)