Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Japanese Encephalitis

I spent 45 minutes today talking to the nurse at Student Health about Japanese Encephalitis. JE is a serious infection caused by a virus and transmitted by mosquitoes. “Encephalitis” means swelling of the brain. Lovely. JE can cause headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, abdominal movements, occasional convulsions (what the heck does "occasional" mean? Like every five minutes? Or once a week?), coma, and paralysis. One in four cases of severe JE infection is fatal. Awesome.

The reason this is relevant to me is that my mom and I are going to China in July (more on this in a future post, I promise.) JE occurs in certain rural parts of southern China. It’s not like I’m going to be spending months crawling around in rice patties or anything like that. My mom and I are taking a pretty nice tour and we'll only be in China for two weeks, and only part of that time is in southern China. And, if I take precautions to limit my exposure to mosquito bites - bug spray, long sleeves, etc – the risk of contacting JE is actually quite low. But, seeing as I seem to get everything that is gettable (I’m sure you all remember the boob wound saga of 2009, the time a common cold beat the crap out of me, the rash that appeared just yesterday), I have a reason to worry about JE.

Luckily, there is a vaccine to prevent JE. It comes in three doses. Unluckily, it is expensive. Each dose costs about $175. And obviously my insurance doesn’t cover it. What is it with me and the expensive meds? My out-of-pocket medical expenses are ridiculous.

The nurse and I spent a good 45 minutes debating whether or not it was worth it for me to get the vaccine. Ultimately, we decided that the risk of JE was really quite low, but that with my compromised immune system it probably isn’t worth taking the chance. I mean, saving $600 doesn’t do me much good if I’m dead.

However, note to self: I need better health insurance.

2 comments:

Joanna said...

my health insurance screwed me over big-time today. so much for america's best doctor's.

~Z~ said...

Yes, being slightly more healthy is NOT cheap.