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In Sweden, information on seroprevalence of tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) in the population, including vaccination coverage and infection, is scattered. This is largely due to the absence of a national tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) vaccination registry, scarcity of previous serological studies and use of serological methods not distinguishing between antibodies induced by vaccination and infection. Furthermore, the number of notified TBE cases in Sweden has continued to increase in recent years despite increased vaccination.


The aim was to estimate the TBEV seroprevalence in Sweden.


In 2018 and 2019, 2,700 serum samples from blood donors in nine Swedish regions were analysed using a serological method that can distinguish antibodies induced by vaccination from antibodies elicited by infection. The regions were chosen to reflect differences in notified TBE incidence.


The overall seroprevalence varied from 9.7% (95% confidence interval (CI): 6.6–13.6%) to 64.0% (95% CI: 58.3–69.4%) between regions. The proportion of vaccinated individuals ranged from 8.7% (95% CI: 5.8–12.6) to 57.0% (95% CI: 51.2–62.6) and of infected from 1.0% (95% CI: 0.2–3.0) to 7.0% (95% CI: 4.5–10.7). Thus, more than 160,000 and 1,600,000 individuals could have been infected by TBEV and vaccinated against TBE, respectively. The mean manifestation index was 3.1%.


A difference was observed between low- and high-incidence TBE regions, on the overall TBEV seroprevalence and when separated into vaccinated and infected individuals. The estimated incidence and manifestation index argue that a large proportion of TBEV infections are not diagnosed.


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