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August 8, 2017

Japanese Encephalitis

Japanese Encephalitis (JE) is the inflammation of the brain due to a the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV). This virus is related to Dengue Virus and just like the Dengue virus it is also spread through mosquitoes. According to the World Health Organization the case-fatality rate among those with encephalitis can be as high as 30%. Permanent neurologic damage or  psychiatric sequelae can occur in 30%–50% of those with encephalitis. As of this moment, there is still no cure for this disease. So, it is better to avoid getting this disease. 

Since it is vector-borne, which means, it requires an insect or another animal (vector) to transmit the disease, the best way to avoid or even eliminate the disease is to do vector control or eradication. If communities can be helped to improve sanitation to destroy breeding places of these mosquitoes that can carry the virus or establish protective barriers against mosquitoes such as insecticide-treated mosquito nets in every home where this disease is endemic and common. Based on WHO information, 24 countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions have endemic JEV transmission, exposing more than 3 billion people to risks of infection. 

According to the Outbreak News Today website: The researchers from the University of the Philippines Manila—National Institutes of Health, Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Manila, Philippines, the Philippines Department of Health, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and the World Health Organization Regional Office of the Western Pacific, Manila, Philippines concluded based on the review, Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is an important cause of encephalitis and febrile illness in all three major island groups of the country and confirming that JE has an extensive geographic distribution in the Philippines. The majority of cases were seen in children younger than 15 years and males were more often affected than females. (March 22, 2015)
Another way to protect an individual from getting Japanese encephalitis is to have themselves vaccinated. There are vaccines available for both children and adults. And both children and adults are susceptible to getting the disease. 

According to WHO: 
There are 4 main types of JE vaccines currently in use: inactivated mouse brain-derived vaccines, inactivated Vero cell-derived vaccines, live attenuated vaccines, and live recombinant vaccines.

Over the past years, the live attenuated SA14-14-2 vaccine manufactured in China has become the most widely used vaccine in endemic countries, and it was prequalified by WHO in October 2013. Cell-culture based inactivated vaccines and the live recombinant vaccine based on the yellow fever vaccine strain have also been licensed and WHO-prequalified. In November 2013, Gavi opened a funding window to support JE vaccination campaigns in eligible countries.

All travellers to Japanese encephalitis-endemic areas should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites to reduce the risk for JE. Personal preventive measures include the use of repellents, long-sleeved clothes, coils and vaporizers. Travellers spending extensive time in JE endemic areas are recommended to get vaccinated.

Make sure to do all precautionary measures to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes that are potentially carrying the virus. Better yet, get yourself vaccinated against the virus especially if you are travelling to areas that are endemic of this disease. 

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