SafeGard Travel Medicine physicians recommend the Japanese encephalitis vaccine for travelers to certain parts of Asia and Oceania who will be at high risk. The travel pharmacies we work with provide this vaccine.
Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a viral infection spread through mosquito bites. Many infections cause no symptoms, but occasionally inflammation and swelling around the brain occurs. This may result in fever, headache, confusion, vomiting and seizures five to fifteen days after infection. JE is a serious disease and coma and death can occur.
All travelers should practice good mosquito precautions. Additionally, travelers should get the vaccine when it is recommended. The vaccine is generally given in two shots 28 days apart and these should be completed at least one week prior to potential exposure. There is an accelerated schedule given on days 0 and 7 which should be completed a week before potential exposure, with a third follow-up shot to be received a year later.
Travelers to South or Southeast Asia may be at risk for getting Japanese encephalitis. While the risk is extremely low for most travelers, certain factors increase the risk. Higher risk is associated with travel to rural areas, outdoor activities and longer stays. In milder climates further north in Asia the risk for JE is greater in the summer and fall, but in the tropical and subtropical areas, the risk is year-round.