Japanese encephalitis is a potentially severe disease. Japanese encephalitis is caused by a virus spread by infected mosquitoes in Asia and the Western Pacific. This virus is one of a group of mosquito-transmitted viruses that can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). It usually occurs in rural or agricultural areas, often associated with rice farming. In temperate areas of Asia, transmission is seasonal, and human disease usually peaks in the summer and fall. In the subtropics and tropics, transmission can occur year-round, often with a peak during the rainy season. It takes 5 to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito to develop symptoms. Several people who are affected experience minor symptoms or none at all. Initial symptoms in patients who develop serious infection include fever, chills, headache, lethargy, nausea, and vomiting. The infection can lead to neuroinflammation, which is frequently accompanied with seizures and in some situations, coma and immobility can occur.
What can travelers do to prevent Japanese encephalitis?
People who travel to locations where Japanese encephalitis is common are the ones recommended to get vaccinated The following are some of the ways to prevent acquiring the Japanese encephalitis infection:
- Get vaccinated if recommended by professionals
- Use an EPA-registered insect repellent
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Keep mosquitoes out of your hotel room or lodging
- Sleep under a mosquito net
If bitten by an infected mosquito in Asia and the Western Pacific, travelers can get infected. Most travelers, on the other hand, have a low risk of contracting Japanese encephalitis.
Activities that can increase a traveler’s chance of getting Japanese encephalitis include:
- Spending a lot of time outdoors
- Traveling during times of the year when mosquitoes are most active, such as summer time
- Traveling for long periods of time in a place that has Japanese encephalitis
In places with four seasons, your chances of getting Japanese encephalitis are greatest in the summer and fall. In tropical and subtropical areas, mosquitoes spread the virus all year long.