Health officials in Iloilo province, in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines report 14 laboratory-confirmed cases of Japanese encephalitis (JE), including four deaths, from Jan. 1 to June 3 this year.
Nine belong to the 4 to 10 age group, two each for the 11 to 20, and 21 to 30, and one was less than a year old.
Two of the four fatalities were from Barangay Lapayon in the municipality of Leganes, and one each from Barangays Cabilauan in Barotac Nuevo and Dela Peña in Barotac Viejo.
This has prompted officials to urge the public to observe the 4S strategy–search and destroy breeding places, observe self-protection measures, seek early consultation, and say “yes” to fogging.
Iloilo Provincial Health Office (IPHO) chief, Dr. Maria Socorro Quiñon said, “JE has no cure, management is focused on how to relieve clinical signs and symptoms and extend support for the patient to overcome the infection. It can be prevented through vaccination, which by the way is not available in Iloilo province.”
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.
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