'Watch your tackle' at Euro 2012
Football fans are being warned not to get tackled by a potentially deadly tick disease at Euro 2012 this summer.
England supporters choosing to camp because of spiralling hotel costs or sightseeing in the natural attractions of Poland and Ukraine in between matches are exposing themselves to an increased risk of being bitten by a tick infected with Tick Borne Encephalitis (TBE), says Tick Alert.
A special Euro 2012 page has been set up on the website Tickalert.org to give fans information about the TBE risk in regions around the tournament's host cities.
Poland has many high risk areas for TBE. Krakow, the base for the England team, is situated in Silesia, one of the most highly endemic parts of the country. The other host cities in Poland are also in TBE areas, as well as Lviv in the Ukraine.
TBE is transmitted within minutes from the bite of an infected tick and causes an average of 13,000 cases needing hospital treatment in Europe and Russia every year. Up to 30% of patients suffer meningitis and in extreme cases it leads to encephalitis (brain swelling) and inflammation of the spinal cord. Two in every hundred people die from the disease.
Even after recovery, long term health problems can include loss of concentration, memory, headaches and tiredness.
"Our message to travelling fans is 'watch your tackle'," said a Tick Alert spokesperson.
"Ticks lie in wait and crawl unnoticed to a nice warm spot on your body, usually the groin although the armpit is another favourite feeding place. Underwear offers little protection against these blood-sucking pests.
"People spending time in the countryside, especially if they are sleeping or walking a lot in grassy areas and undergrowth, need to regularly check their body for ticks and remove any immediately as the moment the tick bites there is the risk you will contract TBE."
Further information on the TBE endemic regions of Europe and latest advice for travellers is available at the website tickalert.org.