Japanese encephalitis Vaccination

Japanese encephalitis is a viral brain infection that is spread to a person who is bitten by an infected mosquito. It is mostly found in rural areas of Southeast Asia, Pacific Islands, and the far east. Despite its name, it is now rarely found in Japan due to mass immunisation programmes.

There is no cure for the virus. Once a person is infected, they will usually need to be admitted to hospital for treatment which focuses on supporting and easing any symptoms while the body tries to fight off the infection. Some people who become infected with the virus show either no to very mild symptoms which can often mistaken for flu. However, if you find yourself in a high risk area do not mistakenly take a risk; around 1 in every 250 that become infected with Japanese encephalitis develop more severe symptoms such as fever, confusion, seizures, and tremors. 30% of people who develop these more serious symptoms will die as a result of the infection and inflammation of the brain. For people who survive these symptoms, recovery is a slow journey that can leave individuals with long-term medical complications such as muscle twitches, personality changes, learning difficulties and paralysis in 1 or more limbs.

How Can it Be Prevented?

They say prevention is better than cure and the best way to prevent Japanese encephalitis is to be vaccinated before you visit any parts of the world where the virus is most common. If you are planning on going camping, hiking, or visiting any rural areas while you travel, you will be at greater risk. The vaccine is available privately at our travel vaccination clinic in Epsom. Visit a travel health clinic for information on all risks and benefits of the vaccine and professional advice.

The vaccine

  • There is only 1 vaccine for Japanese encephalitis that is permitted to use in the UK.
  • Suitable for adults and children aged 2 months and older.
  • The vaccine is given by injection in two doses. The second one is given 28 days after the first one.
  • Both doses of the vaccine should be completed at least 7 days before you travel.

Even if you have been vaccinated, you should always take extra precautions to reduce the risk of being infect by:

  • Sleeping with a protective mosquito net.
  • Wear long-sleeved tops, trousers, and socks.

Regularly applying a good-quality insect repellent.