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Japanese encephalitis: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About Japanese encephalitis

Japanese encephalitis is a serious infection affecting the brain. It is caused by a virus (arthropod borne virus) and transmitted by mosquitoes. It may present with non-specific features and progress to severe neurological manifestations.

Japanese encephalitis: Incidence, age and sex

Japanese encephalitis is one of the commonly encountered mosquito-borne disease in some parts of Japan, China and Korea. Travellers to such areas are especially susceptible to Japanese encephalitis. It may be seen in any age group but more frequent in young adults. No gender bias has yet been documented. It shows a seasonal variance with increased incidence in summer and fall.

Signs and symptoms of Japanese encephalitis: Diagnosis

An individual with Japanese encephalitis may be asymptomatic in the early stages of the disease. However as the disease progresses, he/she may present with fever, chills, headache, fatigue and nausea. As the disease worsens, the affected individual may experience neurological signs like neck stiffness, mental confusion, seizures, paralysis and even coma.

The diagnosis of Japanese encephalitis can be easily established by blood test or cerebro-spinal fluid test.

Causes and prevention of Japanese encephalitis

Japanese encephalitis is caused by Arbovirus virus which is transmitted from human to human through infected mosquitoes belonging to Culex species. Japanese encephalitis is not contagious and does not spread from person to person.

Preventive measures like wearing full-sleeved clothes to avoid mosquito bites, using insect repellents, maintaining well screened rooms and elimination of mosquito breeding sites may help in minimizing the transmission of virus. Moreover, a vaccine for Japanese encephalitis is also available for use in individuals like laboratory workers or natives in epidemic areas who may be highly susceptible to this infection. The efficacy of the vaccine is not 100% proven but it may help prevent infection in individuals. The vaccine needs to be given in 3 doses with a booster dose after 2 years. Pregnant women should avoid taking this vaccine since it may cause harmful effects on the baby.

Japanese encephalitis: Complications

Japanese encephalitis generally resolves on its own in a few days. However it may progress and worsen to a state where death is imminent.

Japanese encephalitis: Treatment

Unfortunately Japanese encephalitis has no specific treatment. However medications like antipyretics may be prescribed for fever and malaise. Preventive measures including vaccination may help keep this infection at bay. Plenty of fluids are advised to prevent any dehydration. Such symptomatic and supportive measures are the cornerstone of management of Japanese encephalitis.