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Japanese Encephalitis Case from Thailand

August 30th, 2013

A recent report of a traveller contracting Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in Thailand highlights the fact that ‘rare does not mean never’. This chap had a very common itinerary:

Upon arriving in Thailand, he visited Bangkok during two days where he stayed in a hotel. On 28 January he travelled by bus to Surat Thani, and on the same day he took the ferry to Koh Samui island. He stayed at bungalows in the beach (Chaweng and Lamai beaches) during all the stay. In Koh Samui, he trained every day but he also visited rural areas, went in the forest and visited waterfalls where was bitten by mosquitoes.

This 20 year old man went to Thailand for 3 weeks for a martial arts competition, and this disease meant he spent 2 months in hospital and over 4 months later, he is able to walk unsteadily, with some memory impairment and emotional fragility. – all because of a wretched little virus carried by a single mosquito bite!

Yes JE is rare – so far only 62 cases have been published in the medical literature in patients visiting risk areas from 1973 to 2013. Thailand was the place of exposure for more than one third of the cases.

There are two excellent vaccines against Japanese Encephalitis that should be considered by all travellers to the risk areas, especially Thailand.

There is more information on JE in our resources page under Vaccine Preventable Diseases.

2 Responses to “Japanese Encephalitis Case from Thailand”

  1. Mosquito Repellent says:

    For most people, Japanese Encephalitis has no symptoms or only mild, flu-like symptoms, such as headache or slightly high temperature.But an effective killed vaccine is available for Japanese Encephalitis, but it is expensive and requires one primary vaccination followed by two boosters. An inexpensive live-attenuated vaccine is used in China, but is not available elsewhere. So it is better to prevent than cure and you have to start with control of mosquitoes and it’s breeding sites.

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