Food Borne Encephalitis – France

The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regional health agency and the Ain prefecture alerted Thursday  of an outbreak of tick-borne encephalitis virus in 26 people. Unusual is that the outbreak appears to be of food origin. 24 people were hospitalized. The infection was fatal to one person. Condition of the others is developing favorably.

A product recall was carried out on raw milk cheeses of goat and cow of a producer in the basin of Oyonnax. These products are suspected to have been consumed by at least 50% of sick people, according to the regional health agency.

Tick-borne encephalitis is caused by a virus transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected tick, mostly from spring to fall . Very exceptionally, infection can be through consumption of raw milk or raw milk cheese, from an animal bitten by a tick carrying the virus.

Photo: Raw milk cheese.

The number of reported cases has been increasing in most countries. Russia and Europe report about 5,000–7,000 human cases annually. Long-lasting or permanent neuro-psychiatric consequences are observed in 10 to 20% of infected patients.

Tick-borne encephalitis vaccines are very effective and available in many disease endemic areas

The first description of what may have been tick-borne encephalitis appears in records in the 1700’s in Scandinavia.

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