Duscher GG1, Wetscher M2, Baumgartner R3, Walder G3. 2015. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 6(4):489-93. doi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2015.03.018. Epub 2015 Apr 11. 1Institute of Parasitology, Department of Pathobiology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, A-1210 Vienna, Austria. Electronic address: Georg.Duscher@vetmeduni.ac.at. 2Institute of Parasitology, Department of Pathobiology, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, A-1210 Vienna, Austria. 3Dr. Gernot Walder GmbH, Außervillgraten, Austria.
A large majority of Austrian citizens are aware of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), consequently reflected by a high vaccination rate of 85%. In return, risk assessment and disease mapping on human cases might be hampered due to high and inhomogeneous vaccination rates and travel habitats of humans. The roe deer was used to obtain a starting point for the integral view on the actual risk of TBE in Austria. The roe deer exhibits several attributes which makes it suitable as an indicator species: the roe deer has a restricted home range and it is known to be a heavy tick carrier. Furthermore it sero-converts after infection with TBE, but no outbreak occurs. Sera from 945 roe deer were obtained from all over Austria and screened with IFAT for the antibodies against TBE. Twenty-two positive samples, 2.4%, and 17 samples at the borderline titre of 1:16 were identified. The majority of the positive samples, 70.6%, were located in known TBE areas based on human cases. Further research is needed to confirm or reject new endemic foci of TBE transmission.