Encephalitis is a serious illness that affects people around the world. Surprisingly, however, awareness of the disease is still relatively low amongst the general public, despite 82% of all requiring emergency hospital admission.
In this article we’ll explain more about this troublesome disease – what it is, what variations there are, and how you can avoid it. Read on to learn the signs, the symptoms and how to protect against variations of this disease.
What is Encephalitis?
In simple terms, encephalitis is a swelling or inflammation of the brain. Sufferers often experience cold and flu type symptoms before the full extent of the condition kicks in. A mild case of encephalitis involves fever, mild headaches, and low appetite, as well as the chance of drowsiness, vomiting, disorientation, and stiffness.
In more serious cases of encephalitis, emergency symptoms can present themselves. These include paralysis, seizures, painful headaches, loss of consciousness, and even memory loss. In young infants, the condition can be difficult to detect, but signs to watch out for are stiffness, frequent crying, poor feeding, vomiting, and the possibility of a small, soft bulge on the side of the head.
The virus can, in extreme cases, lead to the destruction of nerve cells, bleeding of the brain, and brain damage.
The Different forms of Encephalitis
Encephalitis is more likely to strike young infants (particularly those younger than one year old) and the elderly. The condition is most likely to be contracted through a virus. There are many viruses which can lead to a case of encephalitis. These include:
- Chicken Pox
- West Nile Virus
For some of these viruses, vaccines already exist. This is not a complete list, however. The herpes simplex virus is the most common cause of severe encephalitis in people of all ages.
For travellers, it is the mosquito-borne forms of encephalitis that are the biggest fear. In rural areas of South East Asia, the Far East and the Pacific Islands, viruses found in pigs and birds can be passed to humans via mosquitos that bite the animals and then bite humans. Contrary to what some people may think, Japanese encephalitis can not be passed from person to person.
How to avoid mosquito-borne encephalitis
As with many diseases, taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites can be effective. This includes applying insect repellent containing the chemical DEET, avoiding areas where there is standing water, wearing long sleeves and wearing trousers – particularly at dusk. When mosquitos are most active. Utilising mosquito nets at night is also an effective way of protecting against disease.
How to treat mosquito-borne encephalitis
There is currently no cure for Japanese encephalitis. However, it is possible to vaccinate against the disease in advance. This can be done by visiting your local travel clinic and consulting with a trained clinician.
Express Travel Clinic offers vaccines for both Japanese encephalitis and tick-borne encephalitis. These vaccines can make all the difference, so don’t hesitate to make sure you are protected. Call today or use our discreet live chat tool to find out more about our treatments.