Surveillance and outbreak reports Open Access
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Human infections with tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus are a public health concern in certain regions of Europe, central and eastern Asia. Expansions of endemic areas and increased incidences have been associated with different factors including ecological changes supporting tick reproduction, socioeconomic changes increasing human outdoor activities and climatic changes favouring virus circulation in natural foci. Austria is among the most strongly affected countries in Central Europe, but the annual number of cases has strongly declined due to vaccination. Here, we have analysed changes of the incidence of TBE in the unvaccinated population of all federal states of Austria over a period of 42 years. The overall incidence in Austria has remained constant, but new strongly affected endemic regions have emerged in alpine valleys in the west of Austria. In parallel, the incidence in low-land regions in the north-east of the country is decreasing. There is no evidence for a shift to higher altitudes of infection sites in the traditional TBE zones, but the average altitudes of some newly established endemic areas in the west are significantly higher. Our analyses underscore the focal nature of TBE endemic areas and the potential of TBE virus to emerge in previously unaffected regions.


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