Ellen (62) from Midland has been left chronically ill by the new tick-borne disease TBE: “This limits my life dramatically, almost everything is a horror.”

Ellen (62) from Midland has been left chronically ill by the new tick-borne disease TBE: “This limits my life dramatically, almost everything is a horror.”

Ellen Boebert (62) from Midsland contracted TBE tick disease, which is rare in the Netherlands. She is giving this interview because she wants to warn others. “You can get vaccinated against this.”

Every day she goes for a walk with her Polish sheepdog, Czajka. In a mobility scooter, walking consumes a lot of energy. Eleven months ago, Ellen Boebert suffered a tick bite – possibly while walking around the Midsland Ice Rink – for the first time in her life. She turned her life upside down. Since then, the vet has been disabled, chronically ill, and unable to work.

Things were less bad a few months ago, but those days are behind us. “It’s getting worse again, this disease,” she says, looking tired. He cannot tolerate stimuli such as light and sound. Her legs and arms no longer function as they once did, and she suffers from chronic nerve pain in her upper left arm. Traveling is no longer possible.

According to neurologists, no improvement is expected. “This limits my life greatly. I prefer to stay at home, almost everything is terrifying.”

22 patients in the Netherlands

Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE for short) is a virus transmitted by infected ticks. The virus is very rare and only made its way to the Netherlands from the east several years ago. Throughout the Netherlands, 22 patients were diagnosed with TBE, three of them in the North of the Netherlands. All three have contracted the virus on Terschelling in the past two years.

However, Boebert stresses that the chance of TBE signing Terschelling remains very slim. On average, only one in 1,500 ticks in infected areas carries the TBE virus. “After I got infected, 4,000 ticks were caught here in Midland last fall, and none of the ticks had the virus,” she says. GGD Friesland, RIVM and Statsbosbeheer will start a new study at the end of this month, which will then capture ticks in more places.

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TBE has been known for some time in other countries, as Bobert and her partner Gus Kievitz now know. In certain areas of countries such as Germany, Austria and Romania, it is common to be vaccinated against this disease, just as it is in Scandinavia.

“In Sweden there are buses designated for this purpose.” You can die from the consequences of TBE, but according to the RIVM the chance of this happening is very small. Some patients recover from the virus, and most infected people experience no or only mild symptoms.

Strange failure symptoms

Kievitz, who is also a veterinarian, has been vaccinated against TBE, just like many other Terschellingers who work in the wild. The possibility of something like this happening, and the existence of this virus, is something they would have never heard of a year ago. When Boppert fell ill with influenza, and a week later, on his way to England for a holiday in Zealand, he developed increasingly strange symptoms and failures, and she had to be hospitalized.

Twice in Goos, and when it was finally found that she had encephalitis, she was transferred by ambulance to the specialist Erasmus Hospital in Rotterdam.

“I could no longer stand, it became increasingly difficult to speak, and I sank more and more,” Boebert says. “I thought twice: ‘Here it is,’” adds Kivits with a choked face. After ten days at Erasmus she started improving again.

Shortly before, a previous spinal puncture in Goss revealed she had contracted meningitis due to the TBE virus. “The infectious disease specialists at Erasmus found this very interesting. I had an incredible number of neurologists training at my bedside. It was a shame that I was their anatomy lesson.”

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Boppert recovered at Beetsterzwaag with people who had had a transient ischemic attack or infarction. This little spider-like creature could cause something like this. “Big hit. But it’s also possible to catch pneumonia or some other terrible illness from the bacteria and die from it. And they’re much smaller.”

At the same time, I realized that TBE was caused by a virus. And not through bacteria, like that other well-known tick-borne disease: Lyme disease. “You can still be given antibiotics afterward to combat a tick with Borrelia bacteria. The sooner you detect and remove the tick, the less chance of infection. But a tick with TBE can infect you within five minutes, and there’s nothing you can do about it after that.”

“There is a vaccine!”

However, you can arm yourself against TBE. It is a virus and there is an effective vaccine against it. That’s why Boebert wanted to participate in this interview. She hears that older people, who seem to be more vulnerable to the virus, are getting ticks around her.

“These are people who only come to the park, so they are everywhere. This disease deserves more awareness. It is getting warmer due to climate change, and you can assume that TBE will remain in the Netherlands. The probability of you contracting it is very small, and you do not want to cause Panic On the other hand, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. I want people to be warned: there is a vaccine for it!

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