Japanese encephalitis – India
Muzzafarpur district of Odisha, India reported its first death of a two-year-old child this year due to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES).
According to the pathological and clinical reports, the child had a high temperature, convulsions, and low sugar. In AES, the virus is present only in the brain and is transiently present in blood or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
The disease mainly affects children under 15 years. The health officials have reported a total of 20 cases so far. A team of experts is dispatched to collect reports on children’s food habits and health conditions under 5 years of age throughout the district.
Photo: Culex mosquito.
Japanese encephalitis is an infection of the brain caused by the Japanese encephalitis virus. While most infections result in little or no symptoms, occasional inflammation of the brain occurs. In these cases, symptoms may include headache, vomiting, fever, confusion and seizures. This occurs about 5 to 15 days after infection.
The virus is generally spread by mosquitoes, specifically those of the Culex type. Pigs and wild birds serve as a reservoir for the virus. The disease mostly occurs outside of cities.
Prevention is generally with the Japanese encephalitis vaccine, which is both safe and effective. Other measures include avoiding mosquito bites. Once infected, there is no specific treatment, with care being supportive. Permanent problems occur in up to half of people who recover.
The disease occurs in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. bout 68 000 symptomatic cases occur a year, with about 17 000 deaths. Often, cases occur in outbreaks.
The disease was first described in Japan in 1871. Despite its name, the disease is now relatively rare in Japan as a result of large-scale immunization efforts.
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