The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Japanese Encephalitis (JE) alert notice for the whole country after confirming Culex tritaeniorhynchus, the JE vector mosquito, in Busan on 1st April 2018.
Culex tritaeniorhynchus is a small, dark brown mosquito with no distinctive patterns on its body and a wide white band at the center of its mouth. Not all Culex tritaeniorhynchus have the JE virus.
KCDC data shows that JE vector mosquitoes have been confirmed earlier each year since 2015 due to the intensive monitoring of vectors. With rising spring temperatures, mosquitoes have become more active each year as well.
KCDC conducts ongoing JE vector surveillance to issue an alert notice upon confirming the first JE vector mosquito.
There is an effective vaccine for JE, and children should be vaccinated against the disease from as early as 12 months to 12 years of age, in accordance with the national immunization program following the standard schedule.
JE is the most important cause of viral encephalitis in Asia. About 68,000 clinical cases are reported annually. It usually occurs in rural or agricultural areas, often associated with rice farming.
Most JE virus infections are mild (fever and headache) or without apparent symptoms, but approximately 1 in 250 infections results in severe disease characterized by rapid onset of high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, seizures, spastic paralysis and death. The case-fatality rate can be as high as 30% among those with disease symptoms.
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