In India’s northeast Assam state, deadly mosquito-borne Japanese encephalitis cases have risen up to approximately five times in five years due to the warming weather and changing rainfall, health experts say.
According to data from the Assam health department, between 2010 and 2014, the number of annual cases increased from 154 to 744, with deaths increasing from 41 to 160. In 2009, the disease was recorded in only half of the state’s districts, but now is seen in all of them.
Doctors have suggest that climate change is the leading factor for the spread of the disease. The warming weather allow the mosquitoes to survive longer. Thus, as a result of this, the disease that used to spike from May to July, is now seen as late in the year as November.
Japanese encephalitis is characterized by high fever and inflammation of the brain.
Rabindra Nath Talukdar, a senior official of the Assam health department, mentioned that the current temperature is ideal for the Culex mosquito to breed. This ideal temperature would last up till October, which would lead to a rising number of Japanese encephalitis cases.
Talukdar added that, initially Japanese encephalitis occurred only in the upper part of Assam. However, it can now be seen in the lower parts of Assam district, and (now) cases have been reported from all the 27 district of Assam.
Health department officials said that the changes in agricultural patterns has played a role in the rise in encephalitis cases. Farmers are able to grow more corps of rice each year due to warmer conditions. This means that rice paddies with standing water, which offer a breeding ground for mosquitoes, would be available for a larger part of each year.
The Culex mosquito breeds on water in the agricultural land, and now since there is water on the field for several more months than before, it gives more time and space for the mosquito to breed,” Talukdar said.
After being faced with a surge in Japanese encephalitis cases, the Assam government has announced measures to tackle the issue, including more careful monitoring of cases.
Assam Health Minister Nazrul Islam described the situation as “a huge concern”.
“I have asked the senior officials of the health department to monitor the situation carefully and to report to me on a regular basis,” he said.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has ordered officials of the Assam health department to develop a plan to control the disease, after the rapid spread of the disease led to a growing public outcry.
Gogoi said that the plan should incorporate the setting up of an intensive care unit in each district hospital for treatment of emergency cases, together with laboratory testing units. He has already asked the health department to obtain laboratory testing kits for rapid diagnosis of the disease, sufficient vaccines and medicines for the hospitals, and also to carry out intensive fogging in the affected areas.
Civil society groups and activists have however questioned why such steps were not initiated earlier.
“The data from the state health department itself shows that the disease has taken a deadly turn over the years in the state. Unfortunately the state machinery waited for the disease to go out of control, whereas it should have taken steps to control the disease much earlier,” said Sankar Prasad Rai, of the All Assam Students Union (AASU).
Several influential student groups of the state, including the Assam Jatiyatibadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and the All Assam Students Union, have staged protests over the government’s failure to contain the spread of Japanese encephalitis.
Last update: 15-Jul-2015 (data received as of 10-Jul-2015).
Next overall update: Fall 2015.
Taipei, July 15 (CNA)
As of July 11, there have been 19 Japanese encephalitis cases in Taiwan, breaking the record of the number of cases recorded in both 2013 and 2014, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said on Wednesday. Adding on, four Japanese encephalitis cases were confirmed from July 5-11 in Nantou County and Taichung City in central Taiwan including Pingtung County and Yunlin County in southern Taiwan. Those infections brought the absolute number of cases to the topmost level since 2012. The CDC mentioned, there were 33 Japanese encephalitis cases in all of 2010, 22 in 2011, 32 in 2012, 16 in 2013 and 18 in 2014. The mosquito-borne disease is at its pinnacle, the CDC added, as well as advised the public to get vaccinated and make an effort to avoid the breeding of mosquitoes.
Date: 2015, July 15
Guwahati, July 5
Japanese encephalitis has taken the life of one person already, while another positive case has been announced in Kamrup (metro) district in the past two days. In Boko, there is one suspected Japanese encephalitis death and two positive cases being reported. One suspected Japanese encephalitis death has also been reported from Sivasagar town.
Japanese encephalitis has claimed the life of Sarba Goala, 42, from Khetri in Kamrup (metro), on July 3, while Aman Pradhan, 24, from Birkuchi in the Sonapur development block was tested positive. Aman recieved treatment at the hospital and is now recupating at home.
While in North Guwahati and Nagarbera in Kamrup district, two cases have been tested positive for the disease.
The district health department, could not certify whether the man, who died in Boko on July 5, was infected with the Japanese encephalitis. The patient underwent treatment in Down Town Hospital. They have sent his blood sample for confirmation and will be able to confirm if he actually died of the disease once the results comes out. While, the details of the three patients were also unavailable.
Joint director of Sivasagar district health services, R. Borpujari, mentioned that there has been a suspected Japanese encephalitis death in Sivasagar town. The patient was undergoing treatment at a private nursing home there. His blood sample has already been sent for confirmatory tests. One death due to Japanese encephalitis was also declared in Gaurisagar last month.
Death in Kokrajhar
Ansuli Narzary, 24, of Titaguri Samgaon village in Kokrajhar, was admitted to R.N. Brahma Civil Hospital in Kokrajhar on July 1, but later succumb to Japanese encephalitis on July 5, at a private Nursing Home in Bongaigaon.
Ansuli was a mother of a four-and-a half year old daughter, and was also reportedly seven-month pregnant. This is the first reported case of Japanese encephalitis this year in Kokrajhar.
In 2014, six people succumb to the disease, while several others tested positive. Since R.N. Brahma Civil Hospital lacks proper infrastructure, most of the patients were referred to other hospitals.
Japanese encephalitis, a Culex mosquito-borne disease, is transmitted to humans from pigs and wild birds. The disease lacks a definite prescription and only symptomatic treatment is administered to patients. Vaccination against the disease is the BEST way to prevent it.
Date: 2015, July 6
The first endemic case of Japanese encephalitis infection this year in Pingtung County was confirmed on July 10, indicating that the disease has spread to the nation’s southernmost county.
The county’s Public Health Bureau mentioned that, the patient, a 50-year-old woman from Pingtung City, received treatment at a general ward in a Pingtung hospital. On June 12, She developed a headache on and was admitted to the emergency room of a local hospital for treatment before returning home.
She was later admitted to the hospital on June 15, after returning with a fever. On the forth day after her admission, she lost consciousness and was transferred to an intensive care ward.
On June 20, the hospital reported the case as a suspected Japanese encephalitis infection, and sent samples to a laboratory for conformation.
On Thursday, the Centers for Diseases Control (CDC) confirmed that the results were positive. The CDC disclosed that there are five new Japanese encephalitis cases in Taiwan, urging the public to take safety measures against mosquito bites and ensure that their children are vaccinated.
According to CDC statistics gathered for the week from June 30 to Monday, the five new cases included one each in Miaoli County, New Taipei City, Chiayi County, Kaohsiung and Tainan.
As of Monday, there are a total of 15 confirmed Japanese encephalitis cases in the nation, with the majority reported in southern areas.
According to CDC data, the spread of Japanese encephalitis in Taiwan occurs annually between May and October and usually spikes in June and July.
The confirmed case in Pingtung live within the 2km radius of a pig farm, and measures have been taken to remove sources of mosquitoes around the patient’s residence, the CDC said.
The CDC warned people of visiting mosquito-breeding sites at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active, adding that pigs are a common carrier of the virus and people should avoid pig farms.
Date: 2015, July 11
Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) reported 7 confirmed new Japanese encephalitis cases, including 5 in Tainan City and 2 in Yunlin County during June 23 and 29, 2015.
Thus far this year, an accumulative total of 10 Japanese encephalitis cases were confirmed. Which is an increase from the previous year, whereby 9 cases were confirmed during this period.
The five new confirmed cases in Tainan City respectively reside in Xinshi District, Guantian District, Jiangjun District, Annan District, and Jiali District. The two new cases that were confirmed in Yunlin County, both live in Douliu City. The cases’ age range between 42 and 59 years old, and their onset dates range between June 4 and June 22. Some of the common symptoms experienced by the cases include fever and change of consciousness. Currently, all 7 cases are hospitalized for treatment. Just like the previous cases, the epidemiological investigation revealed that all 7 cases have not traveled overseas recently. However, there were pigeon and pig farms, and rice paddy fields within the 2 km radius of the cases’ residences. Thus, it is inferred that the source of infection is in the vicinity of the cases’ residences. At present, none of the cases’ household members have experienced any symptoms.
Date: 2015, July 1
Hong Kong health officials declared the first suspected case of Japanese encephalitis this year. The patient had travelled overseas during the incubation period, however, it was a short trip. Hence there is a possibility that the case contracted the infection locally. Dr Leung Ting-hung said that the Hong Kong health officials are collaborated with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) as a measure to contain the infection.
As accordance to the patient’s family, the 68 years old, male patient with underlying disease, developed a fever and had poor appetite on June 23. He then developed an acute confusion on June 24. He then seek medical attention at Ha Kwai Chung General Out-patient Clinic and was transferred and admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital for further treatment. He is currently admitted in the Intensive Care Unit, and remains in critical condition.
The patient’s blood sample and cerebrospinal fluid were tested by the Centre for Health Protection’s (CHP) Public Health Laboratory Services Branch. The test revealed that the samples were tested positive for antibodies against Japanese encephalitis.
His family claimed, that the patient had journeyed to places in Guangdong, like Xinhui and Kaiping, on June 11 before arriving back to Hong Kong on June 12. As of now, none of the family members residing in the same household has experienced any symptoms. However, they have been placed under medical surveillance. The CHP is conducting further investigations, to obtain further information on his travel history, local movements and exposure.
Furthermore, the patient resides in Wah Yuen Chuen, 12 Wah King Hill Road, Kwai Chung. According to the officials, there are water streams and water bodies found within the vicinity of the patient’s residence. While Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) found that there are wild birds in the neighborhood, however, there are no records of wild pigs or registered pig farms nearby.
Dr Leung mentioned that the epidemiological investigations started soon after there was confirmation from the lab. The CHP also informed FEHD and AFCD to initiate vector investigation. the relevant management offices and Home Affairs Department were promptly informed to start follow up actions. Health education and investigations will be carried out in area where the patient visited.
Hence, I have to stress again on the importance of maintaining strict environmental hygiene, mosquito control and personal protective measures when visiting infected countries, especially the rural areas. Bring your mosquito repellent patches or spray, wear long sleeves and get vaccinated to keep Japanese encephalitis away. REMEMBER, prevention is better than “cure”.
By: Robert Herriman
Date: 2015, July 1
On June 18, 2015, the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) declared two new Japanese encephalitis (JE) cases, and they are 42-year-old and 58-year-old males respectively. According to the epidemiological investigation, both the cases have not traveled overseas recently. However, there were pigeon and pig farms, and rice paddy fields within the 2 km radius of the cases’ residences. Thus, it is inferred that the source of infection is in the vicinity of the cases’ residences. At present, none of the cases’ household members have experienced any symptoms.
On June 4, the 42-year-old case sought medical attention, following the development of a sore throat and mild cough. He felt better the following day. However, he felt lethargic on June 6. He was transferred to the intensive care unit, in the morning of June 7, after he developed fever and unconsciousness.
Conversely, the 58-year-old case developed runny nose on June 6. He developed fever on the following day and sought medical attention on June 8. He was hospitalized in the intensive care unit on June 9, when his fever failed to subside and went into unconsciousness. Both cases are still hospitalized as to date.
In Taiwan, there have been three Japanese confirmed encephalitis cases, all occurring in southern Taiwan, this year according to Taiwan CDC’s surveillance data as of June 18.
Date: 2015, June 22
The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) has disclosed Taiwan’s first case of Japanese encephalitis for the year. The patient is a 31-year-old housewife who resides in southern Taiwan. On on June 2 she visited the clinic upon developing a headache and fever. She admitted to a hospital’s intensive care unit on June 4 after the symptoms persisted and were accompanied by dizziness and vomiting.
Japanese encephalitis was confirmed in the case, on June 10. As of June 13, she still remains unconscious at the hospital.
The epidemiological investigation revealed that the case had not recently traveled abroad. However, within the 2km radius from the case’s house, there were pigeon and pig farms, and rice paddy fields. Hence, it is concluded that the source of infection is near the case’s house. As to date, none of her housemate experienced any symptoms.
According to Taiwan CDC’s surveillance data, the total numbers of confirmed Japanese encephalitis cases between 2010 and 2014, are 33, 22, 32, 16 and 18, respectively. Japanese encephalitis in Taiwan occurs annually between May and October, and it usually peaks between June and July.
As we enter July in a few days time, please friends, if you are going on a holiday to Taiwan (or any other infected countries), please get vaccinated!!
Date: 2015, June 13