March 2023


Japanese encephalitis (JE) is an infection that occurs predominantly in Asia and the Pacific Islands. It is transmitted by mosquito bites, with the main vector being Culex tritaeniorhynchus, and is maintained in enzootic cycles involving pigs, wild birds and mosquitoes. JE is caused by infection with Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), a zoonotic pathogen that also causes disease in mammals such as pigs and horses. In humans, most symptoms are mild or flu-like but can progress to encephalitis. Pigs are considered amplification hosts, and sows may have gestational complications. Horses may exhibit neurological signs. Detection of the virus can be confirmed by serological or molecular laboratory tests. Vaccination offers protection against JEV infection in humans, pigs and horses. Whilst there is no effective treatment of JE, human cases may require hospitalization for supportive therapy, which may include administration of fluids, oxygen and medication to treat symptoms.

Sewgobind S, Johnson N, Mansfield KL. JMM Profile: Japanese encephalitis virus: an emerging threat. J Med Microbiol. 2022;71(12):10.1099/jmm.0.001620.