Japanese Encephalitis

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Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a potentially severe disease. JE is caused by a virus spread by infected mosquitoes in Asia and the western Pacific. JE virus is one of a group of mosquito-transmitted viruses that can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).

Where does Japanese encephalitis occur?

JE occurs in Asia and parts of the western Pacific. It usually occurs in rural or agricultural areas, often associated with rice farming. In temperate areas of Asia, the transmission is seasonal, and the human disease usually peaks in the summer and fall. In the subtropics and tropics, transmission can occur year-round, often with a peak during the rainy season.

How soon do people get sick after being bitten by an infected mosquito?

It takes 5 to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito to develop symptoms

What are the symptoms of Japanese encephalitis?

Most people who are infected develop mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. In people who develop severe disease, initial symptoms include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. The disease can progress to inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and is often accompanied by seizures. Coma and paralysis occur in some cases.

How is Japanese encephalitis diagnosed?

Diagnosis is based on a combination of clinical signs and symptoms and specialized laboratory tests of blood or spinal fluid. These tests typically detect antibodies that the immune system makes against the viral infection.

What is the treatment for Japanese encephalitis?

There is no specific treatment. Severe illnesses are treated by supportive therapy which may include hospitalization, respiratory support, and intravenous fluids.

How can people reduce the chance of getting infected?

  1. Use insect repellent and wear long pants and sleeves
  2. Sleep in air-conditioned or well-screened rooms or use bed nets
  3. A vaccine against JE virus is available. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether this vaccine is right for you.

Who should get a Japanese encephalitis vaccine?

JE vaccine is recommended for persons moving to a JE-endemic country to live, longer-term (e.g., 1 month or longer) travelers, and frequent travelers to JE-endemic areas. JE vaccine also should be considered for shorter-term (e.g., less than 1 month) travelers with an increased risk of JE based on planned travel duration, season, location, activities, and accommodations. Vaccination also should be considered for travelers to endemic areas who are uncertain of a specific duration of travel, destinations, or activities.

JE vaccine is not recommended for travelers with very low-risk itineraries, such as shorter-term travel limited to urban areas or travel that occurs outside of a well-defined JE virus transmission season.

How long does the Japanese encephalitis vaccination last?

The duration of protection is unknown. A booster dose may be given if the primary two-dose vaccination series was given one year or more previously and there is a continued risk of exposure.

What are the side effects of Japanese encephalitis vaccination?

Pain and tenderness are the most commonly reported symptoms. Headache, muscle pain and fatigue can also occur.

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