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Japanese encephalitis is a viral disease found in East Asia. The infection is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. This particular type of mosquito favours breeding sites in and around rice paddies and piggeries.

Most cases occur after the monsoon seasons in China, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, India, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.


The Illness

Japanese encephalitis causes headache, convulsions, encephalitis and meningitis. Severe disease can cause permanent neurological damage. About 30% of those with signs of infection will die from the disease.

Recommendations for Travellers

Prevention is focused on avoiding mosquito bites, especially during the hours between dusk and dawn which is when this mosquito is most active. Use of insect repellents, appropriate clothing and mosquito nets is recommended for those at risk.

Currently two vaccines that protect against Japanese encephalitis are available in the UK: IXIARO (2 doses) and Green Cross (2-3 doses) of vaccine should be given before travel. Individuals should consider being vaccinated if they are travelling to a country where Japanese encephalitis is present and where their stay may be prolonged or they are at increased risk of exposure to the disease e.g. staying in or around rice growing areas.