A travel warning has been issued to British tourists who intend on visiting a popular area in France this summer.

Public health authorities in France have recorded 71 cases of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) between May 2021 and May 2023 but out of these cases, 61 became infected in the country, reports NHS site Fit to Travel.

The worrying disease has been detected in the Auvergne-Rhône Alpes with the majority of cases now being reported in the Haute-Savoie department, but no deaths have been recorded even though "most were admitted to hospital."

@insectshield Bitten by a tick? Heres the best way to remove it. #tickbite #lymedisease #tickease ♬ Chill Vibes - Tollan Kim

Tourists are now being asked to be aware of the disease and to follow the latest travel advice.

Fit to Travel says: “If you are planning to spend long periods of time outdoors in forests or rural areas of countries where TBE infection is common, you should be aware of how to avoid tick bites.

“The most effective way to prevent infection is by having the TBE vaccine, particularly if you are planning to do outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, camping, cycling, fishing orienteering or running in rural or forested areas.

“When travelling in high risk areas, you should inspect your whole body daily for ticks, particularly after outdoor activities. Ticks should be removed as early as possible. Avoid consuming unpasteurised dairy products.”

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Have you been bitted by a tick before when on holiday?Have you been bitted by a tick before when on holiday? (Image: Getty)

What is tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) and what are the symptoms?

TBE is a viral infection spread by tick bites and infected ticks with the virus are found in parts of Europe, including the UK and Asia.

However, the risk of getting it in the UK is “very low,” the NHS has said.

The bugs live in woodlands and grassy areas, but they can also be found in other outdoor locations including in some parks and gardens.

The NHS also explains that the virus which causes TBE does not cause symptoms in most people, however, some people get flu-like symptoms about a week after being bitten, such as:

  • a high temperature
  • tiredness
  • a headache
  • aches and pains
  • feeling sick
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The virus usually goes away on its own, but more severe symptoms of the infection can spread to the brain days or weeks later and can involve:

  • a stiff neck and a severe headache
  • pain when looking at bright lights
  • a fit (seizure)
  • a change in behaviour, confusion or slurred speech
  • weakness or loss of movement in part of the body

How do I reduce my risk of being bitten by a tick outside?

There are a few simple ways to reduce your risk of being bitten by a tick when you’re outside, by following these steps as suggested by the NHS:

  • regularly check your clothes and skin for ticks that might be crawling on you and brush them off before they can bite you – wear light coloured clothing so it’s easier to spot any ticks
  • walk on clearly defined paths to avoid brushing against plants that may have ticks on them
  • use an insect repellent such as DEET on your skin – you can also get clothes that contain insect repellent
  • wear long trousers and long-sleeved tops so it's harder for ticks to bite you

You can find more information about TBE on the NHS website but it’s important to note if you have any health concerns you must consult your GP.