Japanese Encephalitis in Bali; What to Know Before You Go

Last week reports emerged of a recent outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis in Bali. Japanese encephalitis is a serious condition that can prove fatal, so it’s important that travelers are aware of the preventative measures they can take to protect themselves against infection.

What is Japanese Encephalitis?

Japanese encephalitis is a rare infection of the brain caused by a mosquito-borne virus. Most infections are asymptomatic, with only 1 in every 250 cases developing from viral infection into encephalitis. However, encephalitis infection can be fatal, and in one third of cases, it has the potential to cause permanent neurological damage including deafness and partial paralysis.

Information released from the Bali Provincial Government’s Health Department states that the actual numbers of infection are much less than being reported, with 101 reported cases in April 2018 which is one in 42,000 of the local population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that there is less than a one in a million chance you may be infected during travel to a country that experiences regular outbreaks of the disease.

Those travelers at the greatest risk of becoming infected are those who are staying for more than a month in rural areas where the virus is endemic. Travelers visiting urban centres have a very low risk of contracting the virus.

However regardless of the duration of the trip, it’s important for those travelling through infected areas to be aware of preventative measures they should take to minimize their risk of infection.

What steps should you take?

Currently there are three vaccines available for Japanese encephalitis which are more than 90% effective. If you’re intended to travel through Bali or Indonesia for an extended period of time, or just feeling anxious about the prospect of infection on your holiday, vaccination is the one of the best preventative measures available to you.

Even if you have been vaccinated, Real Indonesia recommends all our guests protect against mosquito bites to reduce against the risk of infection from disease.

  • Ensure you cover up with loose fitting clothes outside.

  • Take special care to apply mosquito repellent to any areas of skin that are exposed.

  • Ensure your accommodation has rooms with fly-screens, air-conditioning or mosquito nets.

  • If you’ll be sleeping in an area outdoors or that is exposed, sleep with a bed net.

Remember mosquitoes don’t ONLY bite at dawn and dusk, and the mosquitoes who transmit diseases such as Japanese encephalitis, Dengue and Zika will also bite during day time hours. So, don’t skimp on the bug spray just because the sun is up!