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Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a disease which can lead to severe neurological symptoms, caused by the TBE virus (TBEV). The natural transmission cycle occurs in foci and involves ticks as vectors and several key hosts that act as reservoirs and amplifiers of the infection spread. Recently, the incidence of TBE in Europe has been rising in both endemic and new regions.


In this study we want to provide comprehensive understanding of the main ecological and environmental factors that affect TBE spread across Europe.


We searched available literature on covariates linked with the circulation of TBEV in Europe. We then assessed the best predictors for TBE incidence in 11 European countries by means of statistical regression, using data on human infections provided by the European Surveillance System (TESSy), averaged between 2017 and 2021.


We retrieved data from 62 full-text articles and identified 31 different covariates associated with TBE occurrence. Finally, we selected eight variables from the best model, including factors linked to vegetation cover, climate, and the presence of tick hosts.


The existing literature is heterogeneous, both in study design and covariate types. Here, we summarised and statistically validated the covariates affecting the variability of TBEV across Europe. The analysis of the factors enhancing disease emergence is a fundamental step towards the identification of potential hotspots of viral circulation. Hence, our results can support modelling efforts to estimate the risk of TBEV infections and help decision-makers implement surveillance and prevention campaigns.


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