An 11 year old girl died in the USA from Japanese Encephalitis (JE) after travelling to the Philippines for 3 weeks.March 10th, 2011
On July 18, 2010, a previously healthy little girl aged 11 years was hospitalized in Nevada, USA after 2 days of fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and neck pain. During 21st June to 12th July, she had visited the Philippines with four relatives and had received numerous mosquito bites. (JE is contracted from a mosquito bite) Two of the girl’s relatives were born in the Philippines; the patient and her parents (who did not accompany her on the trip) were born in the United States.
The girl had no history of JE vaccination and neither she nor her travel companions sought pretravel health advice. She spent most of her time in Metro Manila, staying with relatives in a screened house in a compound in urban Quezon City. They took day trips on four occasions to coastal and rural destinations within a few hours’ drive of Manila. They also took a 2-night trip to a resort on an island where they slept in air-conditioned, screened accommodations. While at the resort, they walked on the beach one evening.
On admission to hospital, she had fever 39.4°C. Healing insect bites were noted on examination. She was alert and able to walk until the evening of July 19, but she deteriorated over the next two days and tragically died. She had only been sick for 5 days. JE is caused by a virus and there is no specific treatment for the disease. Many survivors are left with brain damage.
This tragic case highlights the seriousness of Japanese Encephalitis and the importance of proper pre travel advice and vaccination.
JE vaccine is available in Australia for children and is worth it for travelling children who will be at risk.