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Warner Plaza Urgent Care offers a wide range of vaccinations, including the Japanese encephalitis vaccine.

What Is Japanese Encephalitis?

Japanese encephalitis, or JE, is a severe infection caused by a mosquito-borne virus found in many parts of Asia and the western Pacific. The virus is called Japanese encephalitis virus, also known as JE virus or JEV. When a person becomes infected with the JE virus, they will not show symptoms right away. The JEV has an incubation period of about 2 to 15 days, after which infected persons may begin to show symptoms of JE.

Most people who are infected with the JE virus will experience only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. According to the CDC, “less than one percent of people infected with JE virus develop clinic illness.” For the less than one percent of symptomatic cases, however, the disease can cause severe symptoms that pose great health risks.

Initial symptoms of JE include fever, headache, and vomiting. In cases of serious infection, the disease moves beyond the initial stage and causes severe symptoms. These symptoms include weakness, seizures, neurologic symptoms, mental status changes, movement disorders, and encephalitis.

Encephalitis, which is the inflammation of the brain, is serious condition that can result in death. Around 20 to 30 percent of those suffering from encephalitis die from the condition. Those who do recover from the acute stages of JE may experience permanent side effects. According to the CDC, “30%-50% of [JE] survivors continue to have neurologic, cognitive, or psychiatric symptoms.”

What Is the Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine?

The Japanese encephalitis vaccine is an inactivated, two-dose vaccine that is highly effective at preventing Japanese encephalitis virus infection and is considered one of the most safe vaccines by the CDC.

The JE vaccine is an injectable vaccine that is administered in two doses. The second dose in the series of vaccines is administered 28 days after the first. It’s extremely important that people seeking protection against JEV get both doses in the series of vaccines. Both doses are needed to provide protection against JEV. Receiving only one dose has not been proven to have any effect on preventing JEV infection.

The JE vaccine is 90 percent effective at preventing JEV infection. Because the vaccine does not offer full protection against the JE virus, it’s important that people who will be spending time in areas with a risk of of JEV exposure protect themselves from mosquito bites in additional ways, such as wearing mosquito repellent and using mosquito nets.

It’s important to note that the JE vaccine is marketed by its manufacturer Valneva under two separate names. In some areas, like North America, Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Israel, the vaccine goes by the name Ixiaro. In other areas, namely Australia and New Zealand, the vaccine goes by the name Jespect. While the vaccine goes by these two different names, both Ixiaro and Jespect are the same JE vaccine; both vaccines are equally effective at preventing JEV infection.

Who Should Get the Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine?

The CDC recommends that all “travelers planning to spend one month or more in endemic areas during the JE virus transmission season get the JE vaccine,” including “long-term travelers, recurrent travelers, or expatriates who will be based in urban areas but are likely to visit endemic rural or agricultural areas during a high-risk period of JE virus transmission.” They also recommend considering vaccination for some short-term travelers (if they will be traveling during transmission season and will engage in any activities that will increase risk of JEV exposure), as well as travelers who are headed to an area with an ongoing JE outbreak and travelers going to endemic areas who are unsure of what they will be doing during their travels.

In their Vaccine Information Statement, the CDC notes that health risks are low for most travelers. But for those traveling to high risk areas, like rural parts of Asia, the health risks of contracting JEV are serious and vaccination is strongly advised.

It’s also recommended by both the CDC and Medlineplus that laboratory workers who may be exposed to JEV be vaccinated to protect their health.

The JE vaccine is approved for people aged two years and older. For children between two and three years of age, a smaller dose of the JE vaccine is given.

The CDC’s Vaccine Information Statement notes that the JE vaccine is not recommended for all people. Pregnant women are usually not advised to get the vaccine but should consult with their doctor if they believe they will be at risk of JEV exposure.

Additionally, the Japanese encephalitis vaccine should not be administered to anyone currently experiencing moderate or severe illnesses (such as a severe cold, flu, or infection), those who have a history of rashes or wheezing after taking certain medications or being stung by a wasp, or by those who have previously had an allergic reaction to the vaccine or any of the vaccines ingredients.

The CDC’s Vaccine Information Statement also notes that the JE vaccine, like all vaccines for preventable diseases, may have risks of side effects. Mild side effects can include pain, tenderness, redness, or swelling at the injection site, along with headache, muscle aches, and fever. Serious side effects of the JE vaccine are very rare. If you suspect you are having side effects from the JE vaccine, contact your doctor. In the case of suspected severe allergic reaction, you should call 911 and head to the nearest hospital immediately.

Where Is Japanese Encephalitis Found?

Japanese encephalitis is found in many parts of Asia and is found in most parts of East Asia. Countries with a known high risk of the virus include Japan, China, India, Burma, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, South Korea, and Vietnam.

According to the World Health Organization, Japanese encephalitis virus infection occurs in almost all Asian countries but transmission happens mainly in rural agricultural locations where flooding irrigation is practiced.

Warner Plaza Urgent Care offers the Japanese encephalitis vaccines. To get vaccinated, call to make an appointment, make an appointment online, or come in for a walk-in appointment.

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