Children in India have lost their lives to various reasons, among them is infections arising out of encephalitis.
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Encephalitis is an acute inflammation (swelling) of the brain. The majority of cases are caused by either a viral infection or the immune system mistakenly attacking brain tissue. The brain becomes inflamed as a result of the body’s attempt to fight off the virus.
Encephalitis generally begins with fever and headache. The symptoms rapidly worsen, and there may be seizures (fits), confusion, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness, and even coma. Encephalitis can be life-threatening, but this is rare. Mortality depends on a number of factors, including the severity of the disease and age.
Vaccines – keeping up-to-date with vaccines is the most effective way of reducing the risk of developing encephalitis.In areas known to have mosquitoes that carry encephalitis-causing viruses, individuals should take measures to reduce the risk of being bitten. This may include wearing appropriate clothing, avoiding mosquito-infested areas.
Japanese Encephalitis(JE) is the leading cause of viral encephalitis or brain inflammation in Asia. JE is recognised as the leading cause of the disease in India. Japanese Encephalitis is a viral disease. It is transmitted by infective bites of female mosquitoes mainly belonging to Culex tritaeniorhynchus, Culex vishnui and Culex pseudovishnui group. However, some other mosquito species also play a role in transmission under specific conditions. JE virus is neurotorpic and arbovirus and primarily affects central nervous system.
Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are two states, which have seen the most number of encephalitis cases in recent years. The preventive measures are directed at reducing the vector density and in taking personal protection against mosquito bites using insecticide treated mosquito nets. The reduction in mosquito breeding requires eco-management, as the role of insecticides is limited.
Even with treatment, JE can leave significant neurological effects, especially in children. About 30 percent to 50 percent of the survivors can struggle to walk or suffer cognitive disabilities. With poliomyelitis nearly eradicated, JE is now the leading cause of childhood viral neurological infection and disability in Asia.
JE has a tendency to invade new areas that host its traditional habitat—stagnant water in paddy fields—and even develop in new habitats. “Sub-groups of the Culex species of mosquito have been found in vegetation growth along the Yamuna, from where they are infecting people.