Japanese Encephalitis

What is Japanese Encephalitis?

Superdrug Travel Clinics provide a Japanese encephalitis vaccination which consists of two injections. The second dose needs to be administered 28 days after the first, so you need to allow plenty of time before you travel. 

Primary immunisation should be completed at least one week prior to potential exposure to Japanese encephalitis virus.

Once you have received both doses, you are protected against Japanese encephalitis for 12-24 months. After one year, you require a booster. 

The World Health Organisation states, that there are roughly 70,000 new cases of Japanese Encephalitis worldwide each year. Half of all of them were in China. Around 9 out of 10 cases were children under the age of 15 years.

Allergic reactions are rare but can be serious. Common, less worrying side effects of the Japanese encephalitis vaccine, are redness and swelling at the site of injection, high temperature, nausea, dizziness and vomiting as well as abdominal pain. You may also experience muscle pain. These side effects should pass quickly. 

Children are more vulnerable to encephalitis and need a different vaccination. Our Superdrug Travel nurses are happy to assist you in finding the most suitable vaccination.

Japanese encephalitis is a viral disease which, like malaria, is transmitted by mosquitoes. In many patients, Japanese encephalitis symptoms remain mild and the infection may even go unnoticed. However, in some cases, the virus causes severe symptoms and leads to serious complications. 

Typical encephalitis symptoms include nausea and vomiting, seizures, headaches and confusion. The Japanese encephalitis virus affects the human brain and can lead to inflammation and swelling in the brain. In very severe cases, the infection can lead to brain damage. 

There is no specific medication to treat and cure this type of encephalitis. Treatment usually focuses on relieving symptoms and supporting the immune system in its effort to fight the virus. A Japanese encephalitis vaccine provides medical protection for travellers at risk of catching the virus.

Japanese encephalitis is primarily found on the Asian continent. High risk countries are China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Phillipines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. Your risk of encephalitis in some of these countries will vary depending on the time of year of your visit. Due to the increased number of mosquitoes, the risk of encephalitis can be higher during the rainy seasons. 

Generally, the risk for travellers is regarded as relatively low. However, travellers visiting remote areas and backpackers who spend prolonged periods of time outdoors have a higher risk of infection, as do children.

 Spending time in a location close to pig farms or rice fields also increases your risk of contracting the virus, as mosquitoes thrive in damp areas and can pass the virus from animals to humans. 

Your Superdrug Travel nurse will be able to help you decide whether you require a Japanese encephalitis vaccination.

As with other illnesses transmitted by mosquitoes, you can protect yourself from Japanese encephalitis by avoiding mosquito bites. Insect repellent, mosquito nets and long-sleeved clothing will help you stay safe when travelling to an encephalitis area. 

You may also wish to travel outside the rainy season to limit your exposure to mosquitoes and the infections they carry. The Japanese encephalitis vaccine is the safest option for prevention and provides 98% protection against the virus.

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