Japanese encephalitis is a disease caused by a virus viz. Japanese encephalitis virus. It causes brain fever. The disease infects the brain of affected individuals causing a condition called as encephalitis.
The disease is mostly found in Southeast Asia and East Asia. Most commonly affected countries are Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Burma etc.it is one of the most common cause of preventable brain disease. Almost 70,000 cases are reported annually in Asia. In temperate parts of Asia, it shows variation according to the season. Human infections usually rise in summer and fall in temperate areas. Where as in, in tropic and subtropics the transmission is more in rainy season.
Humans are infected by the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus.The reservoirs of the virus are pigs and wading birds.The disease is prevalent in areas endemic to this virus and having a lot of mosquito population. But the chances of developing full blown encephalitis are only 1 in 250. children are mostly affected in severity.
The patient may present with following symptoms:
- Neck stiffness, vomiting
- Drowsiness, dilated pupils
- Decreased appetite
- Mental retardation
- Stupor and disorientation
It’s a fatal disease and may result in death in 50 to 60% of patients having full blown disease.
The diagnosis is made based on the presence of the anti-bodies produced against this virus in the serum or cerebrospinal fluid. These anti-bodies are identified with the help of a test called as ELISA. The presence of these antibodies is apparent 3 to 8 days after infection which lasts till almost about 90 days after the contraction of the disease. However, beyond this time frame the antibodies are not identified or detected in serum or cerebrospinal fluid.
There is no cure for Japanese encephalitis. There is no specific treatment and it is mostly supportive.
- Rest: the patient is hospitalised and kept under observation and advised to take as much rest as possible.
- Fluids: intravenous fluid are given.
- Pain relievers: they help in managing he pain associated with the disease.
- Fever: fever is controlled with the help of anti-pyretic drugs.
- Mannitol: it is used to lower the increased intracranial pressure.
- There is no anti-viral drug effective against Japanese encephalitis.
- Almost 20 to 30% patients do not recover at all and succumb to their death.
- Although some of them do recover from the disease, 30 to 50% patients have residual neurologic, psychiatric and cognition problems.
With the adequate preventive care, Japanese Encephalitis can be avoided.
-Don’t store water for more than 7 days.
-maintain cleanliness and proper sanitation
-Don’t let water accumulate in areas adjacent to the house
-use a mosquito net while sleeping
-Use mosquito repellent
Wear long sleeved and full clothes to avoid mosquito control
It is advised to get vaccinated against the virus if
- If you are traveling to the endemic area for more than a month during the transmission season.
- People local to the area
Japanese Encephalitis can be controlled if proper preventive measures are taken and many lives wouldn’t have to be lost just due to ignorance.