Japanese Encephalitis and how to prevent you and your child from death

March 04, 2017

Evolution really is getting quicker as time goes by. Everything gets better and better by the second. Unfortunately, it's not just the good stuff that evolves, Bacteria and Viruses also undergo this.  What can make us casually sick before has now become more potent and fatal.

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I was with Sanofi and a couple of specialist doctors a couple of weeks ago, and a discussion was held on some of these said viruses and how we can try to fight against them. There are actually a LOT of types of sickness that can be brought on by mosquitoes; the focus being on Japanese encephalitis (JE), known to be a leading cause of viral encephalitis in Asia. This virus has many symptoms, some of which are the following:


  •  inflammation of the brain, leading to high fever

  • headache

  • fatigue

  • vomiting

  • confusion




In severe cases, said virus can lead to:

  • seizures

  • spastic paralysis

  • Coma. It could also mimic a stroke, as was the case reported in Davao during the second half of 2016.


Reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) have estimated that there are currently 3 billion people at risk for JE, living in JE-prone areas, including 24 countries in the Southeast Asia and Western Pacific regions. JE usually occurs in rural and agricultural areas, however, an epidemiologic study conducted by Dr. Anna Lena Lopez of the National Institute of Health (NIH) published in 2015, showed that the virus circulates in all regions of the Philippines, including urban areas like Metro Manila, constituting a significant public health burden.

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Said study, as well as the study from the Department of Health (DOH) Epidemiology Bureau surveillance system showed these facts:

  • Majority of cases occur in children younger than 15 years of age

  • Adults remain at risk, with 15% of cases occurring in individuals older than 18 years.

  • In tropical areas, disease can occur year-round.

  • among 875 acute meningitis-encephalitis suspected cases reported as of August 2016, 119 (14%) were laboratory-confirmed for JE.


There is no specific treatment for this disease. JE is fatal in 20 to 30% of cases and among those who survive, 30 to 50% suffer from permanent disabilities.

In this regard, it is obvious that it pays to be prepared- not just financially, but it can cost or gain you your life.

As part of the government’s strategy to reduce mosquito-borne diseases, the 4S program was implemented several years back. 4S stands for:

  • Search and destroy mosquito breeding places

  • use Self-protection measures

  • Seek early consultation for fever lasting more than 2 days

  • Say yes to fogging when there is an impending outbreak


However, mosquito-borne diseases are still on the rise. One way to lower our chances of getting said disease? Get VACCINATED!

About the Vaccine

The JE-chimeric vaccine, a live attenuated recombinant vaccine, was first licensed in the Philippines in 2013. The vaccine is produced by Vero cell culture, a cell culture technology recommended by WHO. It is the only JE vaccine available locally and is approved for use for individuals 9 months old and above, with high immunogenicity rates.

Local scientific bodies, including the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) and Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP), have recommended that JE vaccination be given as a single primary dose for those 9 months old and above. For individuals less than 18 years of age, this should be followed by a booster dose 1 to 2 years after. Other preventive strategies for disease control include bed nets, repellents, long-sleeved clothes, coils, vaporizers and mosquito control measures.

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You can get vaccinated at the local Pediatrician, or to the Infectious Diseases specialist for the adult vaccines of JE or other viruses.

 

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