Skip main navigation

Military Health System

Clear Your Browser Cache

This website has recently undergone changes. Users finding unexpected concerns may care to clear their browser's cache to ensure a seamless experience.

Surveillance Snapshot: Tick-borne Encephalitis in Military Health System Beneficiaries, 2012–2021

Image of Cover 4. iStock—The castor bean tick (Ixoedes ricinus). Credit: Erik Karits

Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a viral infection of the central nervous system that is transmitted by the bite of infected ticks, mostly found in wooded habitats in parts of Europe and Asia.1 In Germany, the rate of 0.5 confirmed cases per 100,000 people in 2019 was the third highest of the 25 European countries reporting data on TBE.1 TBE has been of historical military significance because there are a large number of U.S. service members stationed in Germany, with an estimate of about 35,000 active duty members as of September 2021.2 In the Department of Defense (DOD) reportable medical event guidelines, TBE is a notifiable event listed under arboviral diseases.3

In August 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a TBE vaccine (“TICOVAC”) for U.S. travelers visiting or living in endemic areas.4 In February 2022, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend Pfizer’s TICOVAC vaccine for use in U.S. populations who travel or move to endemic areas and will have extensive exposure to ticks based on their planned outdoor activities, including many service members serving in these locations.5

A 2019 MSMR report described the cases of TBE occurring among U.S. military service members and other beneficiaries between 2006 and 2018.6 This snapshot updates these results through the end of 2021 using confirmed and probable medical event reports of TBE cases contained in the U.S. military’s Disease Reporting System internet, with a focus on the past 10-year surveillance period.

The reported TBE cases between 2012 and 2018 have been previously described,6 consisting of 1 active component service member in 2012, 4 in 2017, and 3 other beneficiaries in 2018 (Figure). In 2019, there was 1 probable case reported in a 45 year-old male Army active component service member, and in 2020 there was 1 confirmed case in a 38 year-old male Army active component service member. In 2021, there were 2 cases reported: 1 probable case in a 6 year-old female Army dependent, and 1 probable case in a 34 year-old Army active component service member. All cases reported between 2019 and 2021 occurred in Germany in the months of June and July. Case comments were available for 2 of the 4 cases; both indicated that tick exposure likely occurred from living or exercising in a wooded area. None of the cases had a prior history of TBE vaccination.

The number of TBE cases per 5-year period among military health system beneficiaries grew from 1 in 2012–2016 to 11 in 2017–2021. Although the total number of cases is small, the increase in recent years provides information that should be considered when contemplating use of the FDA-approved vaccine for U.S. service members and beneficiaries who live or participate in extensive outdoor activities in a TBE-endemic area.

References

1. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Tick-borne Encephalitis – Annual Epidemiologic report for 2019. Accessed 1 April 2022. https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/tick-borne-encephalitis-annual-epidemiological-report-2019

2. Defense Manpower Data Center. Number of Military and DoD Appropriated Fund (APF) Civilian Personnel Permanently Assigned By Duty Location and Service/Component. September 30, 2021. Accessed 24 March 2022. https://dwp.dmdc.osd.mil/dwp/app/dod-data-reports/workforce-reports

3. Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. Armed Forces Reportable Medical Events, Guidelines and Case Definitions. January 2020. Accessed 2 April 2022. https://health.mil/Reference-Center/Publications/2020/01/01/Armed-Forces-Reportable-Medical-Events-Guidelines

4. Pfizer Press Release. U.S. FDA Approves TICOVAC, Pfizer’s Tick-Borne Encephalitis (TBE) Vaccine. 13 August 2021. Accessed 1 April 2022. https://www.pfizer.com/news/press-release/press-release-detail/us-fda-approves-ticovactm-pfizers-tick-borne-encephalitis

5. Pfizer Press Release. CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Votes to Recommend TICOVAC, Pfizer’s Tick-Borne Encephalitis (TBE) Vaccine, For Those at Risk of Virus Exposure. 23 February 2022. Accessed 1 April 2022. https://www.pfizer.com/news/press-release/press-release-detail/cdc-advisory-committee-immunization-practices-votes

6. Mancuso JD, Bazaco S, Stahlman S, Clausen SS, Cost AA. Tick-borne encephalitis surveillance in U.S. military service members and beneficiaries, 2006–2018. MSMR. 2019;26(11):4–10.

FIGURE. Confirmed or probable TBE cases among U.S. military service members and other beneficiaries, 2012–2021

 

 

You also may be interested in...

Article
Feb 1, 2019

Re-evaluation of the MSMR Case Definition for Incident Cases of Malaria

Anopheles merus

The MSMR has been publishing the results of surveillance studies of malaria since 1995. The standard MSMR case definition uses Medical Event Reports and records of hospitalizations in counting cases of malaria. This report summarizes the performance of the standard MSMR case definition in estimating incident cases of malaria from 2015 through 2017. ...

Article
Feb 1, 2019

Outbreak of Acute Respiratory Illness Associated with Adenovirus Type 4 at the U.S. Naval Academy, 2016

Malaria case definition

Human adenoviruses (HAdVs) are known to cause respiratory illness outbreaks at basic military training (BMT) sites. HAdV type-4 and -7 vaccines are routinely administered at enlisted BMT sites, but not at military academies. During Aug.–Sept. 2016, U.S. Naval Academy clinical staff noted an increase in students presenting with acute respiratory ...

Article
Dec 1, 2018

Adrenal Gland Disorders, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2002–2017

During 2002–2017, the most common incident adrenal gland disorder among male and female service members was adrenal insufficiency and the least common was adrenomedullary hyperfunction. Adrenal insufficiency was diagnosed among 267 females (crude overall incidence rate: 8.2 cases per 100,000 person-years [p-yrs]) and 729 males (3.9 per 100,000 p-yrs). ...

Article
Dec 1, 2018

Incidence and Prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome Using ICD-9 and ICD-10 Diagnostic Codes, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2002–2017

This report uses ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes (277.7 and E88.81, respectively) for the metabolic syndrome (MetS) to summarize trends in the incidence and prevalence of this condition among active component members of the U.S. Armed Forces between 2002 and 2017. During this period, the crude overall incidence rate of MetS was 7.5 cases per 100,000 person ...

Fact Sheet
Mar 30, 2017

Rhabdomyolysis by Location, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012-2016 Fact Sheet

.PDF | 313.80 KB

This fact sheet provides details on Rhabdomyolysis by location for active component, U.S. Armed Forces during a five-year surveillance period from 2012 through 2016. The medical treatment facilities at nine installations diagnosed at least 50 cases each and, together approximately half (49.9%) of all diagnosed cases.

Fact Sheet
Mar 30, 2017

Demographic and Military Traits of Service Members Diagnosed as Traumatic Brain Injury Cases

.PDF | 283.00 KB

This fact sheet provides details on the demographic and military traits of service members diagnosed as traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases during a 16-year surveillance period from 2001 through 2016, a total of 276,858 active component service members received first-time diagnoses of TBI - a structural alteration of the brain or physiological ...

Fact Sheet
Mar 30, 2017

Heat Illnesses by Location, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012-2016 Fact Sheet

.PDF | 267.04 KB

This fact sheet provides details on heat illnesses by location during a five-year surveillance period from 2012 through 2016. 11,967 heat-related illnesses were diagnosed at more than 250 military installations and geographic locations worldwide. Three Army Installations accounted for close to one-third of all heat illnesses during the period.

Skip subpage navigation
Refine your search
Last Updated: July 11, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery