– Sometimes I had to sit in a wheelchair because I was so dizzy. I always enjoyed watching movies, but I wanted to lie in bed. This is one of the worst things I ‘ve ever experienced, says Astrid Falstrom (10).
He had to be hospitalized twice in 2019 when he became seriously ill with the TBE virus after being bitten by a tick.
She may have been bitten while playing in the woods near the school. Symptoms such as fever, headache, and dizziness did not appear until five days later.
Astrid was completely knocked out and could not bear to go to the bathroom.
Mother Maria Falstrom was terrified to see her daughter so ill without knowing what they were.
– GB’s face turned white when she saw the test result and said she should be included in the children section. It’s absolutely horrible, she says.
What is the TBE virus?
what is that?
TBE virus or tick-borne encephalitis is spread by tick bites and can lead to inflammation of the central nervous system. The virus is not like Lyme disease.
Why is that important?
The incidence of infections is on the rise, and 2021 will be a record year with 71 infections in Norway. There is no cure if you get sick. Many suffer from chronic illnesses such as headaches, difficulty concentrating and sleep disorders.
Who should be vaccinated?
The NIPH recommends that children and adults (Westfold, Telemark and Akter, Buskerut) who travel through the woods and fields in infected areas be vaccinated. Three doses for half a year to one year, four doses for those over 60 years.
What kind of symptoms does the virus cause?
Fever, headache and muscle aches for up to a week. After a fever-free break of one week, approx. 30 percent of the symptoms of meningitis.
After three weeks Astrid fully recovered. But that experience shocked her and her family.
– I think you did not notice that you were bitten. That was a terrible thought. So, you should check in in the evening, says Astrid.
Have you been vaccinated against the TBE virus?
Number of cases registered
Last year, after the tick bite, the number of people infected with the TBE virus set a record.
There have been 71 reported cases of infection in Norway, according to figures from the National Institutes of Public Health. Prior to 2018, there were 10-15 cases of infection annually.
If you get sick, there is no cure.
People who are seriously ill and hospitalized have problems with simple things like walking, eating and talking.
Many of them are on sick leave for several months, sometimes a year.
The FHI urges children and adults living in areas affected by TBE to travel more often in the woods and fields and consider frequent tick bite vaccinations.
This applies to the coastal areas of Westfold, Telemark Actor and Old Busquert County.
But the vaccine costs a lot of money.
For children, the price varies from 350-500 kroner per dose. Take three doses within half to one year.
According to the Telemark Vaccine Center, a single dose can cost up to 700 kroner per adult, but can be expensive.
For a family with two adults and children, it costs 6000-7000 kroner.
To be free
Westfold and Telemark District Mayor Derje Rice-Johansson says children in infected areas should get the vaccine free of charge through the vaccination program.
– It is very clear that there is a significant tick problem in the area here. I believe the wallet itself will determine whether people should be safe on the shelves in Westfold and Telemark, says Rice-Johansson.
Today, vaccines are not provided under the immunization program in limited geographical areas.
The county mayor is surprised that the vaccine cannot be introduced to a regional area of the country where this is a problem.
– He says that if experts know clearly that this is serious, they should look into it, even if it is not a national problem.
The Ministry decides
The Ministry of Health and Care Services decides whether vaccines should be included in the immunization program.
Secretary of State Ole Henrik Grot Bjorgold points out that the FHI will provide professional advice on whether this will become a proliferation or seriousness that meets the criteria.
– Then we will start immediately and see it. This is not something we normally take for granted. He says if we get advice about it, it will be something we will consider.
So far, the FHI has not made such a recommendation.
However, they monitor the incidence of reported diseases each year and review their recommendations for vaccination.
– As events increase, we will also look at whether it is appropriate to carry out a new assessment of the public finance and funding program, says Array Stuitzberg, NIPH’s Director of Sector.
Everyone can submit system proposals for a new study to look at funding for vaccines, he points out.
Cost to society
A new study from Telemark Hospital shows that up to 50 percent of those admitted get the remaining diseases.
The study found that critically ill patients would be hospitalized for a day to several weeks.
According to figures from the Norwegian Medicines Agency, it costs an average of 18,080 kroner to stay in the hospital a day.
Sick leave costs NOK 37,600 per month for the average employee who follows the normal rules in the National Insurance Plan, according to NAW figures.
At Agder, Vestfold and Telemark, there are 123,000 children aged 0-14.
An introduction to the vaccination program for this area would cost about NOK 129 million.
Astrid hopes that others will learn from his story and get vaccinated.
– I did not treat anyone else to get that disease. It is very easy to get vaccinated to avoid getting too sore. But it would be great if it was free for kids, says Astrid.
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