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Vaccine Approved for Japanese Encephalitis

Mosquito-borne virus strikes mostly in Asia

TUESDAY, March 31, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- The Ixiaro vaccine to prevent Japanese encephalitis (JE) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as the only sanctioned JE vaccine in the United States.

The mosquito-transmitted virus is found mostly in Asia, where it affects up to 50,000 people each year and causes as many as 15,000 deaths, the FDA said in a news release. Though rarely seen in the United States, a few cases have been reported among people traveling to and from Asia.

The JE virus affects membranes that surround the brain, often resulting in minor symptoms such as fever and headache. Severe cases commonly begin with flu-like symptoms and can progress to high fever, neck stiffness, brain damage, coma and death. The disease is not known to spread from person to person.

Reported side effects from the two-dose Ixiaro vaccine may include headache, muscle pain, swelling and injection-site tenderness.

The vaccine is produced by United Kingdom-based Intercell Biomedical.

More information

The FDA has more about this approval.

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