At Rite Aid, your total wellness is paramount. And part of reaching total wellness is shielding yourself from diseases like Japanese encephalitis (JE). The JE virus is the chief cause of vaccine-preventable encephalitis in the western Pacific and Asia. Depending on destination, duration of travel, season, and activities, the risk for JE varies, but is typically very low for those traveling to Asia.
People can become infected with JE virus when they are bitten by a mosquito infected with JE. The majority of infections in people are asymptomatic, or cause only mild symptoms. A small fraction of people who have contracted JE develop inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), with possible symptoms ranging from: high fever, sudden headache onset, tremors and convulsions, disorientation, and sometimes coma. About 20-30% of encephalitis cases lead to death. About 30%-50% of encephalitis survivors continue to have neurologic, cognitive, or psychiatric symptoms even after the acute infection is over.
JE has no specific treatment. Treatment is based on symptoms, and hospitalization for supportive care and observation is generally required. Preventing mosquito bites and getting vaccinated are the best protective measures one can take to avoid Japanese encephalitis.
Ninety nine percent of people infected with Japanese encephalitis will NOT develop clinical illness. In the less than 1% of people who do develop symptoms, the incubation period (time from infection until illness) is usually 5-15 days. Headache, fever, and vomiting are often the initial symptoms. Symptoms that may develop over the next few days include: weakness, neurological symptoms, mental status changes and movement disorders. Among children, seizures are common.
There is currently only one JE vaccine licensed for use in the United States. IXIARO is an inactivated cell culture vaccine approved for people aged 2 months and older to prevent Japanese encephalitis. IXIARO is given as a two-dose series, with doses given 28 days apart. The last dose should be given at least 1 week before travel. For persons aged 17 years and older, a booster dose may be given if a person has received the two-dose primary vaccination series one year or more previously, and there is a continued risk for JE virus infection or potential for reexposure to JE virus.
Japanese encephalitis vaccine is recommended for those who plan to travel to and spend one month or more in locations where the virus is endemic, during the JE virus transmission season. This includes: recurrent travelers, long-term travelers, or expatriates who will spend most of their time in urban areas but are expected to visit endemic, rural, or agricultural areas during high risk season for JE virus transmission.
Vaccination for Japanese encephalitis should also be considered for:
The vaccine is not recommended for those traveling short term to urban areas or for travel during times outside of well-defined Japanese encephalitis virus transmission season.