England’s players have been warned about the “truly devastating consequences” of tick-borne encephalitis given its prevalence in the area around their World Cup base.
Gareth Southgate’s men jet off to Russia on Tuesday for this summer’s tournament, where they will be based at the forRestMix Club in Repino on the outskirts of St Petersburg.
However, the remote area Harry Kane and Co will call home during the World Cup comes with a health risk, as do some of the places England fans may visit.
Russia has the highest number of reported TBE cases globally and Repino is considered a moderately high zone of a virus the Encephalitis Society calls a “serious health concern”.
Ava Easton, chief executive of The Encephalitis Society, said in a statement to Press Association Sport: “Football fans will likely be travelling to sites in Russia where there is a risk of TBE, such as areas like Repino where the England team will be based, and in Nizhny Novgorod for their second game, where the risk is even higher than in Repino.
“It is recommended that anyone planning to spend time outdoors in these TBE endemic European countries speak to their healthcare professional and take measures to help protect themselves from this disease, which can have truly devastating consequences.”
Easton says the risk of TBE is increased for those undergoing outdoor activities in forested or grassy areas, with an infected bite potentially resulting “in a severe illness”.
The NHS say “the risk of getting seriously ill is low” even if bitten, but the viral infection that attacks the central nervous system can cause encephalitis, meningitis or inflammation of the tissues that surround the brain or spinal cord.
Long-term complications include convulsions and paralysis, with the most severe cases leading to death.