The Department of Health (DOH) 5 Bicol in southern Luzon reported Saturday on seven Japanese encephalitis (JE) cases in the region from January to the end of April.
Camarines Sur had four (one each in the towns of Bula, San Jose, Lagonoy, and Minalabas); Sorsogon had two, (one each in Sorsogon City and Gubat town); and one in Manito, Albay.
No JE cases were reported in the same period last year.
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.
To prevent the spread of JE, DOH-5 has urged the public to minimize outdoor activities during cooler hours at dusk and dawn when mosquitos are active, use mosquito repellent on 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 a hotspot. Everyone is reminded to keep the environment free of mosquito breeding sites, especially with the onset of the rainy season,” it said.
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