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 don't 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. There is some evidence that an infection in a pregnant woman can harm her unborn baby.
The best way to prevent JE is to avoid mosquito bites by:
Some travelers to Asia should also receive JE vaccine.
Japanese encephalitis vaccine is recommended for travelers to Asia who:
Laboratory workers at risk of exposure to JE virus should also get JE vaccine.
JE vaccine is approved only for people 17 years of age and older. Younger people needing protection from Japanese encephalitis should talk with their doctor.
The vaccine is given as a 2-dose series, with the doses spaced 28 days apart. The second dose should be given at least 1 week before travel.
A booster dose of JE vaccine may be given to anyone who was vaccinated more than one year ago and is still at risk of exposure, or might be re-exposed. Your doctor can give more information.
JE vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines.
If you will be traveling for fewer than 30 days, especially if you will be staying in major urban areas, tell your doctor. You may be at lower risk and not need the vaccine.
Like any medicine, a vaccine could cause a serious reaction. But the risk of JE vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.
Moderate or Severe Problems:
Studies of this vaccine have shown severe reactions to be very rare. Like all vaccines, it will continue to be monitored for serious problems.
What should I look for?
Any unusual condition, such as a high fever or behavior changes. Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include diffi culty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heart beat or dizziness.
What should I do?
VAERS does not provide medical advice.
Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine Information Statement. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Immunization Program. 12/7/2011.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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