Young Parents (Singapore) - - SANOFI SPECIAL -

The first case of JE was doc­u­mented in 1871 in Ja­pan. The dis­ease is caused by a fla­vivirus, which is closely re­lated to the dengue, yel­low fever and West Nile viruses. It was trans­mit­ted to hu­mans via Culex mos­qui­toes in Asia. The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) re­ports that JE is the main cause of vi­ral en­cephali­tis in many coun­tries in Asia – near to home and pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions we travel to – with nearly 68,000 clin­i­cal cases ever year.1

The virus lives in host an­i­mals such as pigs and wad­ing birds. Culex mos­qui­toes feed on the blood of th­ese an­i­mals and then trans­fer the virus to hu­mans through bites. Al­though Culex mos­qui­toes’ favourite breed­ing grounds are flooded rice fields and marshes, th­ese in­sects have also been found in ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments.


Oc­cur­rences of JE used to be reg­u­lar in Sin­ga­pore, but in­ci­dences of the dis­ease have de­creased ever since pig farm­ing was phased out in 1992, with only six cases re­ported be­tween 1991 and 2005. Still, find­ings sug­gest that the virus re­mains ac­tive on our is­land.2

The dis­ease also oc­curs in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries where pig farm­ing is preva­lent and, as such, it is im­por­tant not to take the threat for granted.


The JE virus causes ei­ther no symp­toms or mild, short-lived symp­toms, which are of­ten mis­taken for those of the flu. Typ­i­cally, th­ese symp­toms in­clude fever, headache, di­ar­rhoea and mus­cle pain.

In ex­treme cases, the in­fec­tion can spread to the brain, caus­ing symp­toms of en­cephali­tis such as seizures, stiff neck, mus­cle weak­ness, un­con­trol­lable shak­ing of body parts, the in­abil­ity to speak, paral­y­sis, and changes in men­tal state that can range from mild con­fu­sion to coma. Death may re­sult in very se­vere cases. For those who sur­vive, re­cov­ery tends to be slow.3 Ac­cord­ing to WHO, there is no spe­cific cure for JE. Treat­ment is fo­cused on re­liev­ing se­vere clin­i­cal signs and sup­port­ing the pa­tient to over­come the in­fec­tion.3 The good news is that you can pro­tect your fam­ily with the JE vac­cine. There are dif­fer­ent vac­cines avail­able for in­fants, chil­dren and adults. For more de­tails, speak to your pae­di­a­tri­cian or health-care provider.

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