What is Japanese Encephalitis and how is it transmitted?
Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a potentially serious viral infection spread through the bite of an infected mosquito.
Where is the risk?
The risk of JE occurs mainly in rural agricultural areas in Asia and parts of the western Pacific. The risk is very low for most travellers but varies depending on destination, types of activities, duration, and season of travel.
What are the symptoms?
Most people infected with JE do not have symptoms. Symptoms can develop between 5-15 days after being infected and can be as mild as fever, headache and vomiting. More serious symptoms of encephalitis (swelling of the brain) can follow, including mental and neurological changes, movement disorders and seizures, which can result in death or permanent disability. There is no specific treatment for JE.
How can I prevent JE?
The JE vaccine is available as a 2 dose series given 28 days apart followed by a booster dose in a year to ensure long term protection. It is recommend for travellers who:
1. Plan to spend at least a month in areas where JE occurs
2. Plan to travel for less than a month but will be spending a lot of time outdoors in rural areas
3. Plan to travel to areas where there is a JE outbreak
4. Are not sure of their travel plans.
Reactions to the vaccine are uncommon and most often include soreness and tenderness at the injection site. Headache, fever, fatigue and muscle aches may also occur. It is also important follow strict mosquito precautions to prevent JE, especially during the hours between dusk and dawn.
Talk to your travel health specialist to determine if you should have the JE vaccine for your trip.