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Japanese Encephalitis

Signs and symptoms

Japanese encephalitis is common in rural areas of Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Far East. It is a viral infection of the brain spread by mosquito bites, and is usually found in pigs and birds.

Typical symptoms of Japanese Encephalitis:

Japanese encephalitis rarely shows symptoms, or will produce only mild, flu-like symptoms. In a small number of cases, however, the infection spreads to the brain and can be severe and even life-threatening. The serious symptoms include seizures, loss of speech, uncontrollable tremoring, muscle weakness or paralysis, and mental confusion. For those who survive this more serious infection, it can take months to make a full recovery, and may leave them with long-term problems.

Causes

Japanese encephalitis is caused by a type of virus that is mainly carried by pigs and birds, but it can affect humans as well. Humans catch the virus through mosquito bites from an insect that has bitten an animal carrying it. The disease is more common in rural areas due to higher mosquito populations there, but it is also found in urban areas.

What to do next

If you have recently traveled to an area where Japanese Encephalitis is present, or are planning to travel and would like a vaccination, please make an appointment to see one of our excellent doctors.

FAQ

What can I do to reduce my risk of getting Japanese Encephalitis?

Vaccination is the best way to avoid this disease. If you are in an area that is high-risk, take care to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.

How can I prevent mosquito bites?

A combination of mosquito nets with insecticide is a good mode of prevention during sleep. When outside during the day, wear loose-fitting clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible, and use insect repellent on your clothes, skin, and in your room.

Where is Japanese Encephalitis most common?

Despite its name, the disease is becoming increasingly less common in Japan due to immunisation. The countries most notably affected by the disease are China, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, India, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

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Please note that Walk In Clinic is a private medical centre and not an NHS service.