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June 2010


Japanese encephalitis

Prevention in travellers

Volume 39, No.6, June 2010 Pages 389-394

Cora A Mayer

Amy A Neilson

This article is the fourth in a series providing a summary of prevention strategies and vaccination for infections that may be acquired by travellers. The series aims to provide practical strategies to assist general practitioners in giving travel advice, as a synthesis of multiple information sources which must otherwise be consulted.

Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a potentially fatal arboviral infection prevalent in large parts of Asia, as well as Papua New Guinea and the outer Torres Strait Islands. It is the commonest cause of encephalitis worldwide. Although it seldom affects travellers, its serious consequences and at times unpredictable epidemiology make its prevention an important part of the pre-travel consultation. The phasing out of the previously used mouse brain derived inactivated JE vaccine, and the availability of new, safer vaccines now and in the near future, have prompted a reassessment of vaccination recommendations internationally to include a greater number of travellers.

Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a serious arboviral disease caused by a flavivirus closely related to other flaviviruses such as West Nile, Murray Valley encephalitis and Kunjin (the latter two occur in Australia). Other well known flaviviral infections include yellow fever and dengue fever.1 Japanese encephalitis is thought to be the most common form of encephalitis in the world today.2

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