Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine

What Is Japanese Encephalitis?

Japanese encephalitis is a virus that is spread by mosquitoes. It can cause swelling of the brain. It also affects the central nervous system. Japanese encephalitis can cause severe complications, like long-term neurological disability and death. People get Japanese encephalitis when they are bitten by a mosquito infected with the virus. Japanese encephalitis is a common cause of viral encephalitis in Asia. It can be prevented with a vaccine.Many people with the infection may have no symptoms. If symptoms develop, they can include:
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Brain damage
  • Coma
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions , especially in infants
Symptoms of Japanese encephalitis usually appear 5-15 days after the bite from an infected mosquito.There is no specific treatment for this condition. Care for people with the disease is aimed at easing symptoms.

What Is the Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine?

The vaccine is made from an inactive form of the virus. It is called Ixiaro and is for people aged 17 years and older.IMOJEV is a vaccine made from live virus that is weakened. It is not available in the United States.

Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?

The vaccine is recommended for people who are traveling to Asia and are:
  • Planning to stay at least a month where there have been Japanese encephalitis
  • Planning on staying less than a month, but will be in rural areas or outdoors a lot
  • Going to an area of Japanese encephalitis outbreaks
  • Unsure where they will be staying
Lab workers who may be exposed to Japanese encephalitis should also get the vaccine. There is no vaccine available in the United States for young children. Children under age 17 who will be traveling to a high-risk area can visit a travel clinic abroad or enroll in a clinical trial. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for more information. The Japanese encephalitis vaccine is given in a series of 2 shots within 28 days. The last dose needs to be given within 1 week of traveling to Asia.

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