Travelers warned of Japanese encephalitis

Travelers to Japanese encephalitis endemic countries should be advised of the risks of the disease and how to prevent it, U.S. health officials said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Weekly Report said the risk of Japanese encephalitis for most travelers is very low, but varies by destination, duration, season and activities.

The report describes three recent Japanese encephalitis cases among U.S. travelers to Asia. All were Asian immigrants or family members who returned to Asia to live or to visit relatives.

Such travelers might be at increased risk for Japanese encephalitis because of rural itineraries and lack of perceived risk. Travelers to Asia should be advised of the risks of Japanese encephalitis and the importance of personal protective measures to reduce the risk of mosquito bites, the report said.

For some travelers with high risk itineraries, Japanese encephalitis vaccine may further reduce the risk. Japanese encephalitis should be suspected in a patient with evidence of a neurologic infection who recently returned from Asia, health officials said.

Japanese encephalitis is a disease caused by the mosquito-borne Japanese encephalitis virus. Domestic pigs and wild birds are reservoirs of the virus, but transmission to humans may cause severe symptoms.

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