Encephalitis Alert – Get Your Fever Diagnosed

The season favours fevers.

Lot many people have common cold, some have the flu, some have other types of viral and bacterial illnesses like dengue, malaria and the typhoid. Now there is this Enecephalitis too.

Encephalitis, inflammation of the brain tissue is a viral infection more commonly found in children. It also easily affects older adults with a weak immune system (those with HIV/AIDS or Cancer).  The infection can range from mild to severe, depending on the type of germ producing the infection and the part of the brain affected. In some cases, the infection is shown to cause personality changes and seizures.

Japanese Encephalitis

A viral infection that spreads via bite of an infected mosquito, it commonly occurs in rural parts of Asia. It is a virus of the genus Flavivirus occurring particularly in Japan but widespread throughout Southeast Asia. Mortality is higher among children and many of them have become disabled by it. JE is infectious but it is NOT transmitted from person-to-person. There is no specific treatment for the disease.

Mosquitoes become infected by feeding on domestic pigs and wild birds infected with the Japanese encephalitis virus. Infected mosquitoes then transmit the Japanese encephalitis virus to humans and animals during the feeding process. One in four cases of Japanese Encephalitis is fatal.

Symptoms

It is usually about 5 to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito that symptoms develop. Most people who are infected develop mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. It is observed that only around 1 in every 250 people who become infected develop observable symptoms of Japanese encephalitis.

Initial symptoms of infection:

  1. Sudden onset of high temperature (fever)
  2. Chills
  3. Headache
  4. Fatigue
  5. Diarrhoea
  6. Nausea
  7. Muscle pain

Preventive Measures 

Personal protection from mosquitoes is very important in preventing the illness. You must also apply effective insect repellents to the exposed parts of the body.  Use of protective clothing, bed nets and spraying your room with insecticides in the early evening are some ways to prevent mosquito bites. Do not allow water to collect or get stored in areas where outbreaks of insect-borne encephalitis occur. Standing water is a breeding arena for mosquitoes and therefore should be completely avoided.

Risk & Vaccination

Travelers to countries where Japanese encephalitis is endemic are at greater risk if their:

  • Stay is over a month or more
  • Trip includes visiting rural and agriculture areas
  • Trip includes involving in outdoor activities liking hiking or cycling especially during twilight

Generally those traveling to the affected areas or staying around such regions where it has spread must ensure they get immunized. Vaccines stimulate your body to make antibodies against the virus thereby keeping you protected.

Jenvac is India’s first indigenously developed vaccine for Japanese Encephalitis. It has been shown to have a success rate of more than 90%. The vaccine is administered by intramuscular route in the thighs for children and upper arm for adults. The immunization schedule is based on official recommendations.

Adult (18 to <-49 years) – The primary vaccination series consists of two separate doses of 0.5mL each –

  1. First dose : day 0
  2. Second dose: 28 days after first dose

The virus is generally active during the monsoon season and in the months of August, September and October so special care needs to be taken. Avoid water to stagnate so mosquitoes cannot breed in the area. Timely vaccination, avoiding street food and making sure your surroundings are clean are some steps you need to take.

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