Japanese encephalitis shots urged

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Mar 19, 2013 - Page 3

The high-risk season for Japanese encephalitis reaching epidemic proportions is approaching, the Centers for Disease Control said yesterday, adding that parents are advised to have their children vaccinated before the start of the peak season.

The Department of Health’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has decided to make Japanese encephalitis vaccines available to the public all year round, the centers said, considering that the supply and delivery of the vaccines are sufficient.

Records show that in Taiwan the transmission of the disease often occurs from May to October and peaks in June and July, the centers said.

The most effective preventive measure is vaccination. A four-dose schedule of the Japanese encephalitis vaccine is recommended by the centers for children, with the first two primary doses administered at the age of 15 months, two weeks apart, followed by a booster dose one year later and another at the age of five, or before entering elementary school.

Japanese encephalitis has an incubation period of between five and 15 days from infection to developing symptoms, and a mortality rate of between 20 percent and 30 percent, the centers said.

There is also a high possibility of permanent neurological pathological conditions in those who survive the disease.

The centers warned that domestic pigs are the amplifying host of the virus, which is then transmitted to new animal hosts and humans by mosquitoes of the genus Culex that are most active during dawn and dusk.

The centers therefore strongly advised people to undertake measures to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and to avoid mosquito bites.