UPDATE as of 2017 Sep 30: Since the 9 reported deaths and 149 cases of Japanese Encephalitis in the country, there has been no reported new cases regarding the deadly virus which has been basically isolated in Pampanga, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija.
While it’s good news, wouldn’t it be great if we were better informed about this seemingly strange disease and so, protect ourselves?
- Japanese Encephalitis or the JE virus is commonly found in South to Southeast Asia, although as the name suggests, it actually started in Japan when it was first spotted in 1871.
- It generally occurs in agricultural regions where it’s associated with rice production and flood irrigation; however, it could also appear in urban areas. In the Philippines, the last recorded case was back in 1982.
- The JE virus is a viral disease (and transmitted via mosquitoes, not human to human) that is characterized by the inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and currently has NO CURE but only prevention, else, total care if already infected.
- The JE virus may not really be able to penetrate one’s body if a person has a strong immune system; otherwise, symptoms would usually appear between 5 to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
- INITIAL: headache, fever, nausea, vomiting and weakness.
- SEVERE: stiff neck, seizures, convulsion, confusion, motor paralysis, behavioural changes and swelling around the brain.
- LATER STAGE: coma or death.
- Since Japanese Encephalitis has no specific cure or treatment yet, supportive care and close observation is even more crucial here.
- Take paracetamol during fever.
- Hydrate with lots of fluid and salt solution.
- Have good nutrition.
- Get proper rest.
- Intensive care if necessary.
- Have yourself vaccinated. JE vaccines costs less than P2,000 but then, you should get vaccinated twice within 28 days.
- Be extra watchful during the rainy season — especially between May and October as these are the mosquito’s high activity period.
- Control mosquito breeding by keeping your surroundings clean and not letting water stagnate.
- Mechanize the growing of rice if possible.
- Use insect repellents.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Reduce exposure to mosquitoes during its peak ‘biting hours’ which is actually when it’s cooler.
REMINDER: If you live within a reported JE area, once you are bitten by an infected mosquito — avoid scratching instead apply hydrocortisone or calamine lotion to reduce itchiness. Then consult your physician. For severe cases, you would have to submit to a CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) — this is getting fluid samples from your spine for testing.
Remember, while Japanese Encephalitis has no cure yet, it is a preventable disease. Thus, take the necessary precautions.