Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a viral infection of the human brain spread through mosquito bites. JE virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected Culex species mosquitoes, particularly Culex tritaeniorhynchus.
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.
Currently, the virus is spreading its deadly sting in Odisha's Malkangiri district where over 80 children have succumbed to the disease.
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.
There is no cure for the disease, but you can reduce your 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 reccomended for people who are travelling 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 immunization schedules in all areas where JE disease is recognised as a public health issue.
The first case of Japanese encephalitis viral disease was documented in 1871 in Japan.