Dramatic increase in tick-borne infections

Last year, more than 40,000 people in Western Scandinavia may have been affected by infections caused by ticks. SEK 17 million has now been invested in a joint Nordic project to coordinate initiatives to combat the dramatic increase in tick-borne diseases.

The number of people becoming ill as a result of infections caused by tick-borne bacteria and viruses has risen significantly in the region surrounding the seas of Öresund, Kattegat and Skagerrak. It is estimated that more than 40,000 people fell ill during 2011. However, comparing the figures between the individual countries is not easy, with many cases going unreported.

But the researchers know one thing for certain: the number of ticks in the region has reached record levels, probably as a result of climate change.

A total of SEK 17 million has therefore been invested in the ScandTick project by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Region Västra Götaland and Swedish, Norwegian and Danish hospitals, with support from the EU INTERREG programme, with the initial aim of countering the most serious tick-borne diseases: TBE and Borrelia.

“The growing number of cases of Borrelia and TBE infection has had a negative impact on public health in the region,” says project manager Tomas Bergström, a researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy. “At the same time, inadequate diagnostics mean that many people never receive healthcare or vaccines. This leads to significant costs for society in the form of doctor’s visits, healthcare costs and long-term illness.”

The lack of consensus is illustrated by the fact that there is a new, effective vaccine against TBE, which is often not used due to strategies for recommending the vaccine being lacking or insufficient.

“Since the countries within the region share this problem, we can work more closely together to draw up joint guidelines for reporting, diagnosis, treatment and vaccination,” continues Tomas. “We also want to improve preventive work within the region, and to develop information for the public and for healthcare workers.”

The ScandTick project was presented in Gothenburg on 22 November.

Find out more about ScandTick: http://bit.ly/ZjTtjh

Contact:
Tomas Bergström, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg
Tomas.bergstrom@microbio.gu.se
+44 (0)705 264369

ABOUT BORRELIA AND TBE
Borrelia is a bacterial infection that is initially visible on the skin, but which in serious cases can affect the nervous system. Early diagnosis means that the infection can be treated with antibiotics, but in many cases Borrelia can be hard to diagnose. TBE is a viral infection. It is the most serious tick-borne infection in the region, causing many cases of permanent neurological damage each year and even occasional deaths.

ABOUT SCANDTICK
The partners in the project are Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Region Västra Götaland, Sørlandet Hospital Health Enterprise (SSHF), Ryhov County Hospital in Jönköping, Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The total budget for the project is EUR 1,869,143, of which EUR 515,350 has come from the EU.

Press Officer
Krister Svahn

Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg
46766-18 38 69
4631-786 3869
krister.svahn@sahlgrenska.gu.se


The Sahlgrenska Academy is the faculty of health sciences at the University of Gothenburg. Education and research are conducted within the fields of pharmacy, medicine, odontology and health care sciences. About 4,000 undergraduate students and 1,200 postgraduate students are enrolled at Sahlgrenska Academy. Around 1,400 people work at the Sahlgrenska Academy. 850 of them are researchers and/or teachers. 2009 Sahlgrenska Academy had a turnover of 2,100 million SEK.

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The Sahlgrenska Academy is the faculty of health sciences at the University of Gothenburg. Education and research are conducted within the fields of pharmacy, medicine, odontology and health care sciences. 6,000 students are enrolled at Sahlgrenska Academy and around 1,000 researchers and teachers work at the faculty. www.sahlgrenska.gu.se/english

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Dramatic increase in tick-borne diseases in Western Scandinavia
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The growing number of cases of Borrelia and TBE infection has had a negative impact on public health in the region.
Tomas Bergström, researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy