Since there is no chemotherapy or specific treatment available targeting the TBE virus itself, symptomatic or supportive treatment (e.g. maintenance of the water and electrolyte balances) is required. This lack of targeting treatment emphasizes the necessity of tick prophylaxis. Repellent parasiticides may be the right choice to minimize attachment and subsequent feeding of the tick vector.
In the case of diseased dogs emphasis has to be put on preventing secondary harm to the patient itself as well as the owner during convulsions and aggressive behavior. For that reason, therapy should include resting as well as anticonvulsive and sedative medication (Pfeffer and Dobler, 2011). Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are best used to combat the high fever, and antibiotics should be given to prevent secondary bacterial infections, in particular pneumonia (Kritz et al., 2001). Most of the few dogs, that survived a clinical TBE needed between a half and one year to fully recover.
In Europe, there are currently two vaccines licensed for human use, including special formulations or vaccination schemes for infants and older patients (Pfeffer and Dobler, 2011). A continuous vaccination program with booster vaccinations is advisable if there is continued risk. A specific hyperimmune globulin is not available any longer as it has been associated with more severe clinical forms of neurological disease when administered after tick bites.
None of the two available human European vaccines has been licensed for any animal use including dogs. However, both vaccines have been successfully used to vaccinate various animal species (e.g. sheep, goat, roe deer, dogs) without any adverse effect. First results indicate that these vaccines can be used in dogs, but comprehensive studies on the safety and efficacy of the existing human vaccines in dogs are warranted in order to have alternative prevention measures at hand when they are needed (Pfeffer and Dobler, 2011).
- Bjöersdorff A: Borreliosis and tick-borne encephalitis. In: Arthropod-borne Diseases. 2002, Sci. Proc. BSAVA Congress, Birmingham, pp 185-6
- Kritz G, Leschnik M, Leidinger E: [Ixodes ricinus: dangerous for dogs!] Kleintierpraxis 2001, 46, 151-60, [in German]
- Pfeffer M, Dobler G.: Tick-borne encephalitis virus in dogs – is this an issue? Parasit Vectors. 2011, 4, 59