Health officials in Kedah state in northwest Malaysia have reported two fatal cases of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) infection in Kota Setar district.
The first case was reported on November 18, while the second was reported one week later. An outbreak was declared on the same day.
Authorities have implemented the following control measures: vector control through thermal space spraying and larvaciding in patients’ residential localities.
JE is the most important cause of viral encephalitis in Asia. About 68,000 clinical cases are reported annually. It usually occurs in rural or agricultural areas, often associated with rice farming.
JE virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected Culex species mosquitoes, particularly Culex tritaeniorhynchus.
Most JE virus infections are mild (fever and headache) or without apparent symptoms, but approximately 1 in 250 infections results in severe disease characterized by rapid onset of high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, seizures, spastic paralysis and death. The case-fatality rate can be as high as 30% among those with disease symptoms.
There is a protective vaccine against Japanese encephalitis virus.