Japanese Encephalitis (JE) is a severe infection that can result in major neurological damage. In fact, the term “encephalitis” literally translates to mean a swelling of the brain. Like Malaria and Dengue Fever, the Japanese Encephalitis virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. This is the only way for the virus to spread, and it cannot be contracted from one person to another. The disease can be fatal in 20 to 30% of cases.
The symptoms of Japanese Encephalitis can take between five and 15 days to appear. While most people will show no symptoms, severe cases can include the sudden onset of a fever, headache, and vomiting.
The best way to protect yourself from Japanese Encephalitis is through vaccination. The vaccine is given in two doses within a month and provides up to 90% protection from infection. For Italian travellers, a booster dose of the vaccine is recommended every three years. About one fifth of people who take the vaccine may experience mild adverse reactions.
While not mandatory for entry in any country, the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine is strongly suggested for all travellers visiting risk areas. To get specific details about your destination, make an appointment with your International Health Passport specialist.
According to the World Health Organizzation (WHO), Japanese Encephalitis is an endemic in almost all Asian countries. In China, Japan, and Korea, the highest risk periods are in the summer and fall, and in the more tropical climates of Southeast Asia, transmission can occur year-round. Cases of the virus have also been reported in the Torres Strait and northern Australia.
Your risk of infection is very low if you are remaining in urban areas during your trip. Vaccination is recommended for those visiting rural and agricultural areas, particularly if you plan to stay in the region for longer than one month. Those taking part in outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, and cycling are also at increased risk.
The Japanese Encephalitis vaccination does not provide 100% protection against the infection. We strongly recommend taking other mosquito prevention measures to reduce the risk of contracting the infection:
- Wear clothing that covers most of your body
- Use mosquito repellent with a DEET content of at least 30%
- Minimize outdoor activity at dusk and dawn, the time when Culex infected mosquitoes are most active
- Seek accommodation that is air conditioned and contains a screen or bed net
If you’re wondering whether you need the Japanese Encephalitis vaccination, contact our International Health Passport Travel Clinic today.