A spokesperson from the Riga Eastern Hospital said two people in Latvia are suspected to have tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), according to the Latvian Information Agency (LETA) (computer translated).

Image/ Theeuro at English Wikipedia
Image/ Theeuro at English Wikipedia

These are the first cases of the year reported to The Latvian Infectology Center.

Transmission season has begun in the region as officials say that of the 343 ticks that have been removed from patients and inspected, 17 of them were infected with the virus.

TBE is an illness caused by a virus spread through tick bites. You can also get TBE by eating or drinking unpasteurized dairy products (such as milk and cheese) from infected goats, sheep, or cows, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Symptoms include fever, achiness, loss of appetite, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Swelling of the brain and/or spinal cord, confusion, and sensory disturbances occur in 20-30% of people with TBE. One percent of people die from this infection.

TBE is found in many parts of Europe and Asia (from eastern France to northern Japan and from northern Russia to Albania). Several thousand cases are reported each year, but there are probably many other cases that do not get reported. The highest number of cases occurs in Russia.