What should you know about Japanese encephalitis?
1. Japanese encephalitis is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that is similar to yellow fever, dengue, and West Nile viruses.
2. Japanese encephalitis is considered incurable. Thus, getting vaccines as issued in government health programs is recommended.
3. While initial stages of the disease may show mild fever, headache, and vomiting, this could lead to serious symptoms such as seizures, neurological, cognitive, and other behavioral issues that may lead to death if left untreated.
4. The virus tends to rise during the rainy season, thus, preventive measures should be observed.
Health is an important matter in every country around the world, thus, the rise of drugstore franchises around the Philippines. However, it could not be denied that along with this is the alarming incidence of fatal diseases. One of which is Japanese encephalitis.
What is Japanese Encephalitis?
Japanese encephalitis is a mosquito-borne flavivirus which belongs to the same genus as yellow fever, dengue, and West Nile viruses. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is currently considered an endemic to the Philippines since the reports of severe cases where 3 out of 10 cases were found fatal. The illness was also found to have no cure. This is why vaccines and preventive measures are particularly recommended. In 2013, WHO have licensed vaccines for use in the Philippines, which is now being used by the Department of Health for its vaccine program within schools.
How does the Japanese Encephalitis Transmission Cycle Works?
Japanese encephalitis is a disease transmitted by bites from infected mosquitoes of the Culex tritaeniorhynchus species. These species are endemic to both tropical and subtropical countries such as the Philippines. However, it should be noted that the infection exists once the virus is transmitted between mosquitoes, pigs, or water birds – not when humans get bitten by the mosquitoes. Usually, the disease often exists in rural and those partly urban settings where people are most likely of near proximity to these animals.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Japanese Encephalitis?
Usually, Japanese encephalitis occurs as a headache, fever, and vomiting during the initial stage. However, there are also cases where symptoms may not appear as the usual, or none at all. What is apparent for these cases is that 1 out of 250 infections may result in serious clinical illness.
For serious cases of Japanese encephalitis, the patient may suffer from:
- High fever
- Neck stiffness
- Spastic paralysis
As per WHO, the case-fatality rate for Japanese encephalitis can reach up to 30%. Though there may be survivors, 20-30% of them continue to suffer from neurological, cognitive, and behavioral problems like that of recurring seizures, paralysis, and/or inability to speak.
Is there Any Treatment for Japanese Encephalitis?
As of writing, experts have confirmed that Japanese encephalitis is considered incurable. However, there are vaccines being issued to help prevent the rise of these cases and supportive treatment in order to relieve the symptoms that the patient is suffering from.
How Can Japanese Encephalitis Be Prevented?
In order to prevent Japanese encephalitis from going viral, WHO recommends nations to provide people the licensed vaccines as issued by WHO in order to strengthen the campaign against the said endemic. This goes most especially to areas where the disease is a recognized public health issue. Furthermore, the organization also recommends that proper surveillance and updated reports about cases relevant to this disease should also be practiced.
Similar to other diseases transmitted by infected mosquitoes, such cases of Japanese encephalitis tend to rise during the rainy season. With this information in mind, it should be the responsibility of the people to protect themselves from this mosquito-borne virus. One can always start with maintaining a clean environment and the rest will surely follow. More so, in the event that we get sick and experience similar initial symptoms such as fever and other flu-like symptoms, always remember to seek immediate consultation with your doctor to prevent serious illnesses.