How Central Is the Domestic Pig in the Epidemiological Cycle of Japanese Encephalitis Virus? A Review of Scientific Evidence and Implications for Disease Control

Viruses. 2019 Oct 15;11(10):949. doi: 10.3390/v11100949.


Despite the existence of human vaccines, Japanese encephalitis (JE) remains the leading cause of human encephalitis in Asia. Pigs are described as the main amplifying host, but their role in JE epidemiology needs to be reassessed in order to identify and implement efficient control strategies, for both human and animal health. We aimed to provide a systematic review of publications linked to JE in swine, in terms of both individual and population characteristics of JE virus (JEV) infection and circulation, as well as observed epidemiological patterns. We used the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement to select and analyze relevant articles from the Scopus database, 127 of which were included in the review. Pigs are central, but the implication of secondary hosts cannot be ruled out and should be further investigated. Although human vaccination cannot eradicate the virus, it is clearly the most important means of preventing human disease. However, a better understanding of the actual involvement of domestic pigs as well as other potential JEV hosts in different JEV epidemiological cycles and patterns could help to identify additional/complementary control measures, either by targeting pigs or not, and in some specific epidemiological contexts, contribute to reduce virus circulation and protect humans from JEV infection.

Keywords: Japanese encephalitis virus; control; epidemiology; pig.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Culex / virology
  • Disease Reservoirs / veterinary*
  • Disease Reservoirs / virology
  • Encephalitis Virus, Japanese / pathogenicity
  • Encephalitis, Japanese / transmission
  • Encephalitis, Japanese / veterinary*
  • Humans
  • Japanese Encephalitis Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Swine / virology
  • Swine Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Swine Diseases / transmission
  • Swine Diseases / virology
  • Vaccination / veterinary*


  • Japanese Encephalitis Vaccines