Japanese encephalitis: Common symptoms, prevention, other facts

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New Delhi: With Japanese encephalitis spreading its lethal wings in Gorakhpur, the situation becomes dire with every passing minute. As per latest reports, 290 children have lost their lives in the month of August alone.

It was said at that time that over 60 children had reportedly died at the hospital since August 7, many for want of oxygen whose supply was disrupted after bills were not paid to the vendor.

Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a viral infection of the human brain spread through mosquito bites. JE virus or JEV is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected Culex species mosquitoes, particularly Culex tritaeniorhynchus and causes inflammation or swelling in the brain.

Domestic pigs and wild birds (especially herons) are reservoirs of the virus. Mosquitoes that feed on infected animals can become infected with the virus and then transmit it to humans. This disease is most prevalent in Southeast Asia and East Asia.

As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), the disease occurs in many parts of Asia with an estimated 68,000 clinical cases every year.

Japanese encephalitis has been creating havoc in eastern UP for years. Here’s all you need to know about the infection.

Symptoms:

Symptoms in humans include fever, headache, seizures (fits), coma. Although most people with JE virus have no symptoms, the disease can cause long-term problems such as tremors and muscle twitches, personality changes, muscle weakness, paralysis in one or more limbs or death.

Prevention:

Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease, but you can reduce the risk of Japanese encephalitis by taking precautions, including avoiding mosquito bites and getting vaccinated.

  • People traveling to high-risk areas should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites to reduce the risk for JE.
  • Use safe and effective insect repellents and wear long-sleeved clothes to avoid mosquito bites.
  • Reduce exposure to mosquitos during peak hours (dawn and dusk).
  • People who are infected should avoid being bitten by mosquitoes while they are unwell.

Immunisation:

Safe and effective JE vaccines are available to prevent the disease. JE vaccine is recommended for people who are traveling to endemic areas to reduce the risk of the virus and other mosquito-borne infectious diseases. WHO recommends that JE vaccination be integrated into national immunisation schedules in all areas where JE disease is recognised as a public health issue.

Treatment:

Treatment methods include rest, fluids, pain relievers and medication to relieve the symptoms and overcome the infection.

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