Japanese Encephalitis

Countries & Areas at Risk Map

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Japanese Encephalitis is a viral infection spread by mosquitos that can cause swelling of the brain, resulting in permanent brain damage or death. According to the World Health Organization at least 50,000 people in Asia develop visible symptoms of Japanese Encephalitis each year.

Countries at risk

Japanese Encephalitis occurs in most countries in Asia (see South East, East and Central), the Indian subcontinent and remote parts of northeast Australia.

Risk for Travellers

Risk is highest for travellers who are visiting agricultural areas or those who are travelling to high-risk countries for more than three to four weeks.

For temperate countries of Asia including Cambodia, India and Thailand, risk is usually highest around the rainy season. In tropical countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, the risk of the disease is year-round.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms usually occur 5 to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Initially, a flu-like illness may occur, which may progress to brain swelling, resulting in symptoms such as high fever, confusion, convulsions, headache, neck stiffness and paralysis. Japanese Encephalitis can result in death or permanent brain damage and disability.

Treatment

There is no specific therapy available for the treatment of Japanese Encephalitis. Intensive care supportive therapy may be required.

Prevention

A vaccination course of two IXIARO injections may be recommended for travellers considering outdoor activities in high-risk areas, especially during the transmission season. The Japanese Encephalitis vaccination is a course of two vaccines over 28 days. While travelling, be sure to use mosquito nets and avoid insect bites between dusk and dawn when the mosquitos are most active.

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