Hong Kong Med J 2005;11:182-8 | Number 3, June 2005
Japanese encephalitis in Hong Kong
K Lam, OTY Tsang, RWH Yung, KK Lau
Department of Medicine and Geriatrics, Caritas Medical Centre, Shamshuipo, Hong Kong
OBJECTIVES. To review past and present patterns of occurrence of Japanese encephalitis in Hong Kong and across Asia. A better understanding of the disease should facilitate the formulation of an effective strategic plan to prevent a future epidemic.
DATA SOURCES. Report of local cases, and literature search of MEDLINE up to November 2004.
DATA SELECTION. Literature and data related to Japanese encephalitis.
DATA EXTRACTION. Relevant information and data were reviewed by the authors.
DATA SYNTHESIS. Since 16 July 2004, under the ordinance of Hong Kong, Japanese encephalitis has been a notifiable disease. In the past, Japanese encephalitis has reached epidemic proportions in Japan, South Korea, and some areas in China. It has spread globally and has a worldwide incidence of 35 000 to 50 000 cases per year with 10 000 deaths. Mortality is about 30% and survivors often suffer serious long-term morbidity. In 2004, there were five local cases of Japanese encephalitis in Hong Kong. Subsequent serological surveillance of serum samples from 1547 local inhabitants revealed that 37 were positive, ie 2.4% of local inhabitants had been exposed to the Japanese encephalitis virus in the past. Most local inhabitants are immunologically naive to Japanese encephalitis virus. Most infections in endemic areas are asymptomatic. Patients with symptomatic Japanese encephalitis usually present with fever, headache, and confusion. Other signs include neurosis, poliomyelitis, and convulsion. Investigations including magnetic resonance imaging, electroencephalography, and single photon emission computed tomography are not specific. A definitive diagnosis depends on serological studies. Treatment is mainly supportive.
CONCLUSIONS. The control of Japanese encephalitis in Hong Kong relies on an accurate surveillance system, vector control, vector avoidance, and vaccination of the at-risk population. At present, vaccination should be limited to travellers to endemic areas who would stay for longer than 1 month.
Key words: Asia, Southeastern; Encephalitis, Japanese; Epidemiology; Hong Kong
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