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DoH-7 not taking JE case lightly

By KIER EDISON C. BELLEZA

CEBU CITY – Notwithstanding the only one confirmed case of Japanese encephalitis (JE), the Department of Health (DoH) in Central Visayas – Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) is keeping an eye on this mosquito-borne disease, as the country moves further into the rainy season.

JE is a viral disease characterized by inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). Most persons who get infected have no telltale signs and symptoms 5 to 15 days after being bitten by a mosquito.

Its signs and symptoms include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and in severe cases, neck stiffness, seizures, paralysis, and coma, which may lead to death.

While there is no cause for alarm of the disease in the region, at the moment, DoH-7 RESU Head Rennan Cimafranca assured that the regional office’s health personnel are not dropping their guard on JE.

“We are on heightened surveillance. If there are people with suspected cases, we immediately follow-up and check out the area the person lives in, if his or her family members and neighbors will manifest JE’s symptoms,” said Cimafranca.

Cimafranca said the day- and night-biting mosquito (Culex tritaeniorhyncus), which is the main carrier of the virus, is present in almost all areas in Central Visayas.

The said mosquitoes commonly thrive in rural and agricultural areas. In urban areas, these mosquitoes surround houses with water storage containers. Transmission can occur year-round, often with a peak during the rainy season when mosquito populations are higher, the DOH said.

As to the sole recorded case from January up to the present, Cimafranca said the patient, who hailed from the Northern Cebu town of Tuburan, was diagnosed during the first quarter of this year.

The RESU head explained that even though the patient is now in the recovery stage, DoH-7 still monitors the latter since the virus can leave a residual effect in the form of neurologic complications such as paralysis, recurrent seizures or inability to speak.

Last year, the DoH-7 also reported one confirmed JE case in Consolacion town, Cebu.

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