What is Japanese Encephalitis?

This is a virus infection that causes a severe flu-like illness with prominent headache, neck stiffness, confusion and coma. Death rates may be up to 30% or higher and long term brain damage is common. It is spread mostly in rural area where conditions favour breeding of mosquito that carries the virus.

There is no cure for the disease. Cases either recover spontaneously, die or develop permanent brain damage. It occurs mostly in rural areas of many parts of South East Asia, China, Korea, Northern India and Nepal.


Prevention

The main prevention is by avoidance of mosquito bites and Immunisation with a Vaccine.

For travellers spending one month or more in rural areas and for those residing for 6-12 months or more in urban areas where the disease is prevalent, vaccination is recommended. A multidose vaccination program is available at Travel Vaccination Health Care, to be completed at least 10 days before travel.

This gives >95% protection and is recommended for all travellers over 1 year of age.

Note that some travellers experience a reaction to the vaccine including sore arm in approximately 20%, a slight temp and generalised aches in approximately 10%. Approximately 1% of patients have a severe allergic reaction and all patients are requested to remain for observation for 30 min, although this reaction can occur rarely up to 10 days after vaccination. Alcohol is to be avoided totally for 48 hours after vaccination.