Travel health information about Japanese Encephalitis
Japanese Encephalitis is a nasty disease which is found in Japan and beyond. It has even reached Australia. Here’s everything you need to know about immunisation.
What is Japanese encephalitis and what causes it?
Japanese Encephalitis is a serious illness causing inflammation of the brain. In bad cases it can lead to brain damage and death. A fortunate third of people who get the disease are asymptomatic, which means they don’t experience any symptoms at all. Another third suffer from long-term neurological deficits and the remaining third die.
There is no cure for Japanese Encephalitis and treatment is supportive, which means medical experts simply do everything they can to help you pull through unharmed.
Japanese Encephalitis Symptoms
Common Japanese encephalitis symptoms include:
- Confusion and agitation
- Encephalitis itself, also called inflammation of the brain, which can lead to permanent brain damage or even death
When do I need protection against Japanese encephalitis?
Regular epidemics happen in South East Asia, China and India. The disease is most common in farmed regions and tends to be more widespread in the rainy season when mosquitoes are particularly active. The disease is more common in children than adults.
Who needs immunisation?
- Anyone who stays a month or more in an at-risk rural area during the rainy season
- People taking shorter trips who are at particular risk, ie. travelling to places where rice paddies and pig farming are side by side
- Those who enjoy regular outdoor activities in risky regions
- Lab workers exposed to the virus through their jobs
When not to have the vaccine
- If you have a fever – it’s best to wait until it’s gone
- If you had a bad reaction to a previous dose of the same vaccine
- While there’s no evidence it is dangerous, it is probably best to avoid this vaccine if you’re pregnant or breast feeding, when it’s only given in cases where high risk to exposure can’t be avoided
How to minimise the risk of catching Japanese encephalitis?
Immunisation is the best way to avoid this disease. But it isn’t 100% effective 100% of the time, so it’s important to steer clear of mosquitoes even if you’ve been immunised.
- Sleep in a screened room and keep the windows and / or shutters closed
- Use a mosquito net and make sure it’s large enough to cover you without leaving any gaps. Check for net damage every day and repair any holes
- Spray the bedroom with insecticide at dusk to kill any insects that have sneaked in during daylight
- If you sleep outdoors or in an unscreened room, use mosquito nets impregnated with a safe and effective insecticide like Permethrin
- Burn a mosquito coil while you sleep
- Because the insects carrying the disease are most active during the dusk and evening, stay indoors after sunset
- If you go out, cover every bit of exposed skin. Bear in mind mosquitoes are less attracted to pale colours and use insect repellent. Diethyltoluamide (also known as DEET) is safe and works well, but it’s best to check first because different repellents tend to work better in some areas than others
Which drugs are used and are there any side effects?
- Vaccine name – Ixiario
- Property – an inactivated vaccine given by injection to the arm’s deltoid muscle
- Dose – 0.5ml pre-filled syringe
- Course – Complete 1 week before travel. Two doses 28 days apart on day 1 and 28, although it can be given earlier or later in special circumstances
- Booster – You’ll need regular boosters every 1 – 2 years
- Side effects – A mild local reaction which can include pain, redness, inflammation, flu like symptoms plus stomach and bowel issues. Rarely, migraine or vertigo
- Special Certificate requirement – None
How long will the protection last?
Nobody knows exactly how long the protection lasts. Experts recommend a booster dose for those aged 17 or more, if the original two dose vaccination series was given a year or more earlier and the person is still in an at-risk area.
Where to get vaccinations?
We are pleased to provide expert Japanese encephalitis immunisation services for travellers and others who need protection.
How much do Japanese encephalitis vaccinations cost?
- Japanese Encephalitis (Ixiario) – Course of two doses – £90 per dose
Want to book a Japanese Encephalitis vaccination? You may simply want to explore the risks or find out more first. It’s quick and easy to book an appointment, either by phone or via our website. Call 0207 112 5198 to talk to a friendly, expert vaccination specialist.