Japanese Encephalitis, or JE, is a mosquito-borne virus that causes brain inflammation and belongs to the same genus as yellow fever, West Nile virus, and dengue fever. The first documented case of JE was in Japan in 1871 and each year there are nearly 70,000 cases worldwide. It’s most commonly found in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Far East.
JE infections occur more frequently in children, but people of any age are susceptible to developing it. Many people who contract Japanese encephalitis will only experience mild symptoms and make a full recovery. However, those who have a more serious infection are at a higher risk of serious and sometimes fatal complications. There is no cure for Japanese encephalitis.
Symptoms of Japanese Encephalitis in Adults
Most infections cause little to no symptoms. Of those who are symptomatic, the symptoms are similar to the flu or a cold and will start within 5-15 days of the initial infection. Symptoms can include:
If the disease becomes more advanced, neurological and movement disorders will occur. People may find themselves having trouble speaking and feeling weak and confused. Other serious signs and symptoms include:
- Sudden high-grade fever
- Spastic paralysis
Of those who develop these more serious symptoms, 20-30% will not survive. Up to half of the people who recover from more severe cases of JE will have lifelong neurological cognitive and psychiatric complications.
Symptoms of Japanese Encephalitis in Children
It’s not uncommon for children with JE to experience more gastrointestinal symptoms like stomach upset, abdominal pain, and vomiting. Children are also more likely to experience seizures if the infection becomes severe.
Is There a Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine?
Luckily, there’s a very effective Japanese encephalitis vaccine. It’s one of the recommended vaccines if you’re going to be working or travelling in an area where JE is a risk. The vaccine is suitable for adults and children 2 months and older.
Before your next trip, book an appointment at one of Touchwood Pharmacy’s travel clinics. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff will provide you with comprehensive advice as well as any required vaccinations to keep you safe on your travels.