Indian health officials are responding to an outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in Assam State in northeastern India.

According to the latest data released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, 365 JE positive cases and 66 deaths due to JE have been reported from the State so far.

Japanese encephalitis geography/CDC
Japanese encephalitis geography/CDC

This has prompted Health Minister, Shri J P Nadda to hold a meeting with senior health officials concerning the outbreak.

He said the Director General of Health Services has been directed to immediately rush a team of experts to Assam to assist and advise the State health authorities in clinical management of the cases.

“All the necessary assistance is being provided to the state of Assam to handle this outbreak effectively. We are closely monitoring the situation and whatever additional help is required would be provided with immediate effect,” Shri Nadda said.

“Senior officers of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare are in regular touch with the State health authorities. Sufficient number of testing kits has already been provided to the state,” added Shri Nadda.

Most of the victims of the JE outbreak have been adults, according to the health ministry.

12 districts of Assam including Sivasagar, Dibrugarh, Jorhat and Golaghat have been covered under the adult JE vaccination campaign. All the districts of Assam have also been covered under JE child (1–15 years) vaccination campaign and routine JE immunisation programme. Cases detected are generally the persons, who have not been vaccinated.

Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable encephalitis in Asia and the western Pacific. It is a viral disease transmitted by Culicine mosquitoes.

Of interest: 13 Diseases You Can Get From Mosquitoes

Most human infections are asymptomatic or result in only mild symptoms. However, a small percentageofinfected persons develop inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), with symptoms including sudden onset of headache, high fever, disorientation, coma, tremors and convulsions.

About 1 in 4 cases are fatal. There is no specific treatment for JE. Patient management focuses on supportive care and management of complications. Steps to prevent JE include using personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites and vaccination.

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