HOW IS IT TRANS­MIT­TED?

Young Parents (Singapore) - - SCHOOL HOLIDAY ISSUE -

JE is caused by a fla­vivirus, which is closely re­lated to the dengue, yel­low fever and West Nile viruses, and is trans­mit­ted to hu­mans by Culex mos­qui­toes in Asia.

The first case of JE was doc­u­mented in 1871 in Ja­pan. Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO), JE is the main cause of vi­ral en­cephali­tis in many coun­tries in Asia, with nearly 68,000 clin­i­cal cases ev­ery year.

The JE virus lives in host an­i­mals like pigs and wad­ing birds; the Culex mos­qui­toes feed on their blood and then trans­fer the virus to hu­mans through bites. Wet ar­eas such as flooded rice fields and marshes are com­mon breed­ing grounds for Culex mos­qui­toes, al­though th­ese crit­ters have also been found in ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments.

Ac­cord­ing to WHO, there is no spe­cific cure for JE. Treat­ment is fo­cused on re­liev­ing se­vere clin­i­cal signs and sup­port­ing the pa­tient to over­come the in­fec­tion.

LOOK OUT FOR SYMP­TOMS

The JE virus causes either no symp­toms or mild, short-lived symp­toms, which are of­ten mis­taken for those of flu. Ini­tial symp­toms in­clude fever, headache, di­ar­rhoea and mus­cle pain.

In some cases, the in­fec­tion can spread to the brain, caus­ing symp­toms of en­cephali­tis such as seizures, stiff neck, mus­cle weak­ness, un­con­trol­lable shak­ing of body parts, the in­abil­ity to speak, paral­y­sis, and changes in men­tal state that can range from mild con­fu­sion to coma. Death may re­sult in very se­vere cases. For those who sur­vive, re­cov­ery tends to be slow.

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