Taiwan health officials reported an additional five cases of the mosquito borne viral disease, Japanese encephalitis, during the past week, bringing the total cases on the island country to 15.

Pig and piglet
Photo/Agricultural Research Service

The five new cases include one case each in New Taipei City, Miaoli County, Chiayi County, Tainan City and Kaohsiung City, according to Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data this week, prompting the agency to urge the public to take precautions against mosquito bites and ensure children receive the vaccine timely in order to ward off infection.

The status of the five new patients range from regular hospitalization to intensive care for treatment.

According to the epidemiological investigation, 4 cases live or work within 2 km to pig farms, pigeon farms, rice paddy fields, ponds or ditches. Hence, it is determined that the source of infection is somewhere around the cases’ residences. Currently, none of the family members residing in the same households has experienced any symptoms. On the other hand, the case who resides in New Taipei City lives in proximity to a pig farm and has visited a place in southern Taiwan where cases have been confirmed. The source of this case’s infection is still under investigation.

The vector mosquitoes for Japanese encephalitis are most active during dawn and dusk. Pigs act as the amplifying host for Japanese encephalitis. To prevent infection, avoid visiting vector-breeding sites such as pigpens at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. When needing to visit mosquito-prone places, people are advised to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and apply officially approved mosquito repellent to exposed body parts to prevent mosquito bites and lower the risk of contracting Japanese encephalitis.

Parents are reminded to make sure their children receive the vaccine. In addition, free Japanese encephalitis vaccination is being offered to adults who reside and work near at-risk areas such as pig farms and rice paddy fields.