|Children with Japanese encephalitis being treated at the neurology and infectious diseases department at the HCM City Paediatrics Hospital 1. —VNS Photo Hằng Đinh|
HCM CITY — People who have children especially at the age of between 5 and 15 and in the Mekong Delta should take preventive measures against Japanese encephalitis, which breaks out between June and October every year, a doctor at the HCM City Paediatrics Hospital said.
Trương Hữu Khanh, head of the hospital’s neurology and infectious diseases department, said the number of cases would increase soon since this is the breeding season of the culex mosquito, which transmits Japanese encephalitis.
The mosquitoes breed mostly in paddy fields, he said.
The disease is transmitted from pigs and birds to humans through mosquitoes, he said.
Six children are being treated at the hospital and are in bad conditions. All are on ventilators.
The number of cases is higher this year than last and the victims’ condition is more serious, Khanh said.
The son of Trần Thị Yến Nga of the delta province of Bến Tre has been treated for Japanese encephalitis for the last eight months and remains on a ventilator.
Khanh said two patients including Nga’s son have been treated for a long time.
People in serious condition and placed on ventilators need to be treated for a full year, he said.
Many of the victims, including Nga’s son, were not vaccinated against the disease, he said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), most Japanese encephalitis infections are mild or without apparent symptoms, but approximately one in 250 patients have severe clinical illness.
Severe disease is characterised by a rapid onset of high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, seizures, spastic paralysis and ultimately death, WHO said.
Of those who survive, 20-30 per cent suffer permanent mental, behavioural or neurological problems such as paralysis, recurrent seizures or the inability to speak, it added.
Khanh said there is no medicine to cure the disease and the main treatment involves using a breathing machine to assist respiration and drugs for preventing convulsion.
According to statistics, 60 per cent of patients recover and 30 per cent suffer from permanent problems, with the remaining 10 per cent dying.
Getting vaccinated and destroying mosquitoes are the best preventive methods, he said.
At one year children should get their first shot and a second after 14 days.
A year later they get a third shot.
After three years they should get a booster shot. — VNS