Topic of the Day – Japanese Encephalitis

UPSC Exam Preparation: Topic of the Day – Japanese Encephalitis

Japanese Encephalitis virus (JEV) is a flavivirus spread by mosquitoes and is related to same genus as yellow fever, dengue and West Nile Viruses.  JEV is the primary cause for viral Encephalitis in a large number of countries in the Asian continent. In 1871, the first case of Japanese Encephalitis was recorded in Japan.

JEV is transmitted to humans through bites from infected mosquitoes of the Culexspecies (mainly Culex tritaeniorhynchus) which breeds mostly in the rice fields.  Japanese Encephalitis is also transmitted by the mosquitoes when they feed on wild birds and pigs infected wity the JEV. The disease does not transmit from one person to another. The disease transmission is very high during rainy seasons due to the drastic increase in the population of vector. Though the disease has no cure, there are safe and effective vaccines available for prevention of the disease. The treatment aims helping the patient overcome the infection and at relieving severe clinical signs.

The disease mostly affects children. Individuals of any age maybe affected by the disease, but most of the adult population in the countries where Japanese Encephalitis is endemic have a natural immunity after the childhood infection. WHO has made recommendations for inclusion of the JEV vaccine in the national immunisation schedule of all the areas that recognise Japanese Encephalitis as a public health issue in order to control and prevent the disease. It provides global recommendations for JE control, including the use of vaccine.

DASTAK Campaign:

The government of Uttar Pradesh has recently launched a huge door to door campaign DASTAK, to prevent Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and Japanese Encephalitis (JE) to make sure that the disease is eradicated from the state at the earliest. The campaign was launched in association with UNICEF. Awareness about the disease will be created by initiating sanitation drive, ensuring vaccination and early treatment to the disease, through mass media communication etc.

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