Japanese encephalitis (frequently known just as JE) is a viral disease provoked by flavivirus. In order to get infected with this virus and get the disease people must be bitten with infected mosquito. This disease is very common in Asian countries, with over 50.000 people showing some symptoms of JE. More prominent and serious symptoms are seen in 1 of every 200 patients and these problems have been seen to cause permanent damage of the brain or even lethal consequences.
Slight Danger for Travelers
Flavivirus and Japanese encephalitis is known to occur in Southeast Asia, Pacific Islands and the Far East, especially in pig farms and rice fields, full of mosquitoes. This virus lives in birds and pigs and from infected animals it gets transferred to mosquitoes, which might transfer it further, to humans. People traveling to these parts of the world rarely got sick from Japanese encephalitis. This is so rare occasion that just 1 of million travelers get the disease.
Symptoms and Prognosis of Japanese Encephalitis
Most patients who contracted flavivirus and develop Japanese encephalitis have mild symptoms, such as high temperature and headache. However, some people may develop seizures or vomiting, suggesting the disease is taking the more serious course. Encephalitis, however, is very rare and only 1 of 300 people diagnosed with JE actually develop inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). Older children and adults are usually immune and resistant to flavivirus, but very young children may have severe problems with this disease. If the person recovers from JE once he or she should be resistant to the virus for the rest of the life, or at least won’t have any severe symptoms of the disease.
For people who developed severe symptoms of the disease, there are about 30% chances the problem might have fatal consequences. According to the WHO (World Health Organization) children are in majority of 10.000 of lethal cases of Japanese encephalitis all over the world.
So far, there is no treatment for this viral infection, but some travelers might be advised to get vaccinated against flavivirus if traveling to the part of the world known for Japanese encephalitis.
Can You Prevent Japanese Encephalitis?
Although some people get the vaccine against JE, this is not completely efficient way to prevent this disease. Make sure to be protected from any mosquito bites while visiting or living in the high risk areas. Sleep in the rooms with gauze on the doors and windows, use mosquito nets and insecticide spray for mosquitoes already in the room. Wear loose fitting clothes and cover your whole body if you are going to be outside after sunset. Make sure to apply insect repellent to exposed parts of your skin.