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Japanese encephalitis is a viral disease affecting the nervous system. It is transmitted by infected mosquitoes in the farming regions of Asia. The disease can progress to a serious infection of the brain and can be fatal. A vaccine is approved for use in travelers who might be at risk for infection. Since 1981, only five cases of this disease among Americans traveling or working in Asia have been reported.

What Is Japanese Encephalitis?

Japanese encephalitis is a potentially severe viral disease that is spread by infected mosquitoes in the agricultural regions of Asia. It is one of several diseases that is caused by a mosquito-borne virus. Japanese encephalitis can affect the central nervous system and cause severe complications, including death. There is no specific treatment for this disease.
 
A vaccine is licensed for use in travelers whose itineraries might put them at risk for Japanese encephalitis. All travelers should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites to prevent Japanese this and other mosquito-borne diseases.
 

What Causes Japanese Encephalitis?

Japanese encephalitis is caused by an arbovirus. Arbovirus is short for arthropod-borne virus. Arboviruses are a large group of viruses that are spread by certain invertebrate animals (arthropods), most commonly, blood-sucking insects. Like most arboviruses, Japanese encephalitis is spread by infected mosquitoes.
 

Where Is Japanese Encephalitis Found?

Japanese encephalitis is found throughout rural areas in Asia. Infection can also occur near urban areas in some developing Asian countries.
 
Japanese encephalitis is a seasonal disease that usually occurs in the summer and fall in the temperate regions of China, Japan, and Korea. In other places, disease patterns vary with rainy seasons and irrigation practices.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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