Japanese encephalitis is a mosquito-borne infection that leads to swelling of the brain. It can affect the central nervous system and cause severe complications, even death.
Factors that may increase your chance of Japanese encephalitis include:
- Living or traveling in certain rural parts of Asia—Outbreaks have occurred in China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand. These countries have controlled the disease through vaccinations. Other countries that still have periodic epidemics include Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, India, Nepal, and Malaysia.
- Employment as a lab worker, which may result in exposure to the virus.
Symptoms of Japanese encephalitis usually appear 5-15 days after the bite from an infected mosquito.
Japanese encephalitis may cause:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include the following:
- Blood tests to look for antibodies
- Cerebrospinal fluid tests to evaluate the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord
Imaging tests to assess the brain include:
Since there is no specific treatment for Japanese encephalitis. Care is focused on treating specific symptoms and complications.
There is a Japanese encephalitis vaccine. It is recommended for people who live or travel in certain parts of Asia and for lab workers who are at risk of exposure to the virus.
Also, take the following measures to protect yourself from mosquito bites:
- Remain in well-screened areas.
- Wear clothes that cover most of your body.
- Use insect repellents that contain up to 30% NN-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) on skin and clothing.
- Use proper mosquito netting at night. Look for netting treated with insecticide.
- Reviewer: David L Horn, MD, FACP
- Review Date: 11/2014 -
- Update Date: 01/13/2014 -