Tick-Borne Encephalitis is a viral infectious disease that causes swelling of the brain and spinal cord. England and Ireland football supporters have been warned to ‘watch their tackle’ in this summer’s Euros because of a deadly biting insect that attacks the groin.

The tournament is being held in the Ukraine and Poland where there is a particular danger of the potentially fatal viral disease Tick Borne Encephalitis (TBE) experts warn.

Warning: Ticks infected with encephalitis target the warmest parts of the body

One of the worst affected regions is Silesia, which contains Krakow – the base for the England team.

Fans most at risk are those who will be camping in the countryside as thousands are intending to do in order to avoid paying the spiralling hotel charges in cities.

Ticks infected with the disease thrive in such areas and they often bite the warmest parts of the body which doctors say are the groin or the armpit.

This means nipping behind a tree in the countryside for a call of nature could be exposing themselves to the risk of a bite.

The warning comes from UK charity Tick Alert which has set up a special page on its website Tickalert.org dedicated to football supporters heading to the event.

It lists the level of risk in the regions where many of the games are being played and shows that part of Europe is described as ‘highly endemic’.

Up to 13,000 people a year in Europe
need hospital treatment for an infected tick bite, a third of whom go on
to contract meningitis.

This, in turn, leads to encephalitis, a swelling of the brain and spinal cord.

two per cent of cases end fatally yet those who recover can suffer for
years from symptoms such as exhaustion and loss of memory, said Tick

Fans: Football fans who will be camping ahead of the England matches in Poland have been told to take particular care

A spokesman said: ‘Our message to travelling fans is “watch your tackle”.

‘Ticks lie in wait and crawl unnoticed to a nice warm spot on your body, usually the groin although the armpit is another favourite feeding place.

‘Underwear offers little protection against these blood-sucking pests.

‘People spending time in the countryside, especially if they are sleeping or walking a lot in grassy areas and undergrowth, need to regularly check their body for ticks.

‘Remove any immediately as the moment the tick bites there is the risk you will contract TBE.’

The Foreign Office has warned travellers going to TBE-endemic countries seek medical advice from the local clinic before they go.

Among countries affected are almost all in central and eastern Europe but also those in Scandanavia and as far south as Greece.

Infected ticks are found in rural and forest areas from late spring and throughout the summer.