Japanese Encephalitis (JE)

Travelers who are planning to spend significant amounts of time on farms or rice paddy fields in any SouthEast Asian country or in the Pacific's should be aware of the risk for developing Japanese Encephalitis (JE). There are some potentially long-term health concerns associated with the development of JE, so now is the time to get educated and prepared.

What is Japanese Encephalitis and how is it transmitted?

JE is a disease caused by flavivirus that can be transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Carriers of the virus are pigs and wading birds. The primary locations where JE transmission is a concern are agricultural areas, with those areas associated with rice cultivation and flood irrigation being of particular concern.

What are the symptoms and long-term results of JE?

The majority of people won’t show any symptoms, though symptoms that do appear would arise 5 to 15 days after infection. These symptoms include vomiting, headaches, and sudden fevers. Less common symptoms are changes in mental thoughts or behaviour, coma, seizures, a feeling of weakness in general, convulsions, and neck stiffness.

JE can ultimately cause one’s brain to swell. Long-term damage to the brain and nerves are the ultimate potential results, and death does occur in 20% to 30% of cases. No specific treatment exists for JE, though the right health care can help with controlling symptoms and assisting with recovery.

Should you get a travel vaccine?

Travellers to Asia who will mostly stay in urban areas have little reason for concern, though if you will be spending a lot of time outdoors (such as by camping) we welcome you to discuss your plans with us. If you will be staying or working at a farm or rice paddy field for one month or longer in one of the areas noted above, definitely come visit our North Vancouver travel clinic so we can determine the need for a vaccine.