Philippines: 7 cases of Japanese encephalitis reported in Bicol

news desk @bactiman63

The Department of Health (DOH) 5 Bicol in South Luzon on Saturday reported seven cases of Japanese encephalitis (JE) in the area from January to the end of April.

Bicol, Philippines
Public domain image/NEIL DE LEON via wikimedia commons

Camarines Sur had four (one in each of the towns of Bula, San Jose, Lagonoy and Minalabas); Sorsogon had two (one in Sorsogon town and one in Gubat town); and one in Manito, Albay.

No cases of JE were reported during the same period last year.

JE is the leading cause of viral encephalitis in Asia. About 68,000 clinical cases are reported each year. It usually occurs in rural or agricultural areas, often associated with rice cultivation.

The JE virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected person. Culex mosquito species, especially Culex tritaeniorhynchus.

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Most JE virus infections are mild (fever and headache) or without apparent symptoms, but approximately 1 in 250 infections result in severe illness characterized by the rapid onset of high fever, headache, head, stiff neck, disorientation, coma, convulsions, spastic paralysis and death. The case fatality rate can reach 30% in people with symptoms of the disease.

There is a protective vaccine against the Japanese encephalitis virus.

To prevent the spread of JE, DOH-5 urged the public to minimize outdoor activities during cooler hours at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are active, use mosquito repellent on the exposed skin, stay in air-conditioned or well-screened rooms, use mosquito nets, and get vaccinated, especially before traveling to areas where Japanese encephalitis is endemic.

“Follow the 4S strategy – Search and destroy mosquito breeding sites, use self-protection measures, seek early consultation and say yes to fogging when there is an impending outbreak or hotspot. Everyone is reminded to keep the environment free from mosquito breeding sites, especially with the onset of the rainy season,” he said.