Japanese Encephalitis (JE)

What is Japanese Encephalitis (JE)?

Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a serious infection caused by a virus. It occurs mainly in rural parts of Asia. JE virus spreads through the bite of infected mosquitoes. It cannot spread directly from person to person.

The risk of JE is very low for most travelers, but it is higher for people living or traveling for long periods in areas where the disease is common.  Most people infected with JE virus do not have any symptoms at all. For others, JE virus infection can cause illness ranging from fever and  headache to severe encephalitis (brain infection). Symptoms of encephalitis are fever, neck stiffness, seizures, changes in consciousness, or coma.

About 1 person in 4 with encephalitis dies. Of those who don’t die, up to half may suffer permanent brain damage. The best way to prevent JE is to avoid mosquito bites by:

  • remaining in well-screened areas,
  • wearing clothes that cover most of your body,
  • using an effective insect repellent, such as those containing DEET.

Japanese Encephalitis (JE) Vaccination

Some travelers to Asia should also receive JE vaccine.

Japanese encephalitis immunization is recommended for travelers to Asia who:

  • plan to spend at least a month in areas where JE occurs,
  • are traveling to these areas for less than a month but plan to visit rural areas or engage in outdoor activities,
  • go to areas where there is a JE outbreak, or
  • are not sure of their itinerary.

Laboratory workers at risk of exposure to JE virus should also get JE vaccine. (Reference CDC)

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