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Japanese Encephalitis and tick-borne Encephalitis vaccination for travel

If you're travelling to rural areas in Asia this year, Japanese encephalitis (JE) or tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is one of several mosquito-transmitted diseases you need to prepare for before taking your trip.

Is tick-borne encephalitis the same as Japanese encephalitis?

Though in the same family, tick-borne encephalitis is not the same as Japanese encephalitis. They are distributed differently and have a slightly different prognosis. They also require different vaccinations, so if you are travelling to a humid area in Europe, you will need a different vaccination than if you were travelling to rural Asian areas. Pigs and wading birds tend to be the most common carrier of the disease.

How long does the tick-borne encephalitis vaccine last?

The TBE vaccine lasts approximately three years and requires three doses over the course of a year. You can, however, travel fairly safely if you start your TBE vaccination at least six months in advance.

Two doses of the JE vaccination are given, with the second dose occurring 28 days after the first, or at an accelerated rate of seven days after the first dose. If you are in at-risk areas often or perpetually, you should get a booster shot every year to two years.

Do you need to pay for tick-borne encephalitis vaccination?

As TBE and Japanese encephalitis do not exist in the UK, you will have to pay for this vaccine privately. Each dose costs approximately £65, with the total vaccination costing £195 per person. The JE vaccination, however, costs £90 per dose, which comes to a total of £180 per person.

Do you need an encephalitis vaccine before travelling to Japan?

Despite the name, Japan has relatively few cases of JE due to mass immunisation programmes. Cases of JE have been reported in: China, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Nepal, India, Phillipines, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Due to the severity of the JE or TBE virus, if you are travelling to one of these locations, you might want to budget both the vaccination and comprehensive travel insurance into your trip's cost.

For further information please check out the NHS website.

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