There are two main types of encephalitis, and also several possible variations. Encephalitis vaccines will vary and are specific to each type and variation. Finding and using the appropriate vaccine is done by identifying the specific form of the condition. This is important because inactive encephalitis viruses are used to create the vaccines.
Encephalitis is a condition that starts with sudden fevers, vomiting, and headaches. Ultimately, brain inflammation occurs, which can be particularly dangerous. If left untreated, serious damage is likely. Rare instances have led to seizures, permanent brain damage, and even death.
The spread of encephalitis occurs through viral and bacterial infections. Primary infection is when the infection occurs when the spinal cord and brain experience a direct viral infection. Secondary infection is often due to complications that result from a current viral infection.
Young children, the elderly, and people with other illnesses or conditions are more susceptible to infection from small viruses, referred to as enteroviruses, because their immune systems are delicate. Encephalitis can also result from infections caused by arboviruses and Lyme disease that come from infected blood sucking insects like mosquitoes and ticks. Due to the potential brain damage, immediate treatment with encephalitis vaccines is required after exposure to the virus.
Similar to other types of vaccines, the ones for encephalitis are designed to help the immune system. When the inactive virus from the vaccine is introduced into the body, the immune system is triggered as though there was a real risk of infection. It then works to create antibodies that will remember the virus. If the body comes in contact with the active version, it will automatically defend against the intrusion. The damage from the infection is either reduced or avoided, depending on a person’s current health condition.
Each type of this condition has specific vaccines. The encephalitis vaccines available are created by using inactive viruses. The Japanese encephalitis vaccine is created by using the virus that comes from mosquitoes in Asia. The tick-born vaccine is created by using the viruses spread by ticks throughout Central Europe and Russia.
Preventing encephalitis is just as important as ensuring that there are encephalitis vaccines available. To avoid the risk of exposure, simple steps can be taken. Exposure with infected people should be minimal. Extra precautions to avoid tick and mosquito bites are also good preventative measures. If infection is suspected, doctors must be notified as soon as possible to avoid the risks and potential dangers.