AIZAWLMizoram on Thursday reported its first case of Japanese Encephalitis (JE), a viral brain infection that’s spread through mosquito bites. State nodal officer of the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) Dr Pachuau Lalmalsawma, in a statement, announced the detection of the JE case from a patient in a private school in Aizawl. 

He said that the state health department has recently informed the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) about the detection of a suspected JE case in Trinity hospital and asked for a final decision as it will be the first JE case in the state. 

“After perusing the investigation reports of the suspected patient, the NCDC has confirmed the case,” Pachuau said in the statement. 

Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is a flavivirus related to dengue, yellow fever and West Nile viruses, and is spread by mosquitoes called culex. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), JEV is the main cause of viral encephalitis in many countries of Asia with an estimated 68,000 clinical cases every year.

Although symptomatic Japanese encephalitis (JE) is rare, the case-fatality rate among those with encephalitis can be as high as 30 per cent. 

Permanent neurologic or psychiatric sequelae can occur in 30–50 per cent of those with encephalitis.

Twenty-four countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions have endemic JEV transmission, exposing more than 3 billion people to risks of infection. Most cases are mild and rarely cause serious brain swelling with a sudden headache, high fever and disorientation.

There is no cure for the disease and treatment is focused on relieving severe clinical signs and supporting the patient to overcome the infection.

A vaccine is available. According to state health officials, culex mosquitoes that spread the JE virus are common in Mizoram and the safest way to prevent being infected is to avoid mosquito bites by using a mosquito net, mosquito repellent cream and insecticide like dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) and cleaning surroundings to prevent mosquito breeding. 

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