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Ticks in the Balkans. Any danger?

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Hello one and all!

I will be travelling to the Balkans region of Europe for the month of April, specifically to Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia. I am very keen on doing outdoor activities on this trip, things like hiking, rafting and mountain biking.

Virtually all the travel books that I read pertaining to these few countries warn of the prevalence of ticks and the diseases they carry - encephalitis and lyme disease. Both of these are quite serious afflictions. Furthermore, I was informed that tick bites can be quite common if one walks unprotected in high grass and forested regions.

Is the tick problem really as serious as it is made out to be in travel literature? Do I have to precautionary measures when I go out into the wild? And if so, what exactly should I do to prepare? There is a vaccine available for encephalitis, but it takes over 6 months to complete the vaccination process. I have not got the luxury of time, unfortunately.

Any and all advice is greatly appreciated.

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