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As the nation is fighting against Aedes threats, Malaysians are now at risk of another mosquito borne disease, the Japanese Encephalitis (JE). This disease from the virus family Flaviviridae, spreads to human through infected Culex mosquitoes that had bitten animals which are reservoirs for the virus. According to a recent news report, there have been a total of 17 JE cases which includes 4 deaths this year. Although the number of cases is not as alarming as dengue, the fatality rates are quite high at about 23%.
Studies have shown that, JE virus occurs primarily in rural areas of the tropics, particularly in flooded rice fields. This is due to the optimum environment that makes it an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. In addition, proximities close to pig farms are also at high risk of contracting this deadly virus as domestic pigs and wild birds are the main amplifying host for JE.
Several symptoms may mark the onset of this disease in humans. Fever, headache and malaise are some of the non-specific symptoms of this disease. Other signs which develop during the latter stage include neck rigidity, weight loss, muscle weakness on only one side of the body, muscle contraction and a raised body temperature between 38 – 41°C. In critical situations, mental retardation may be developed from this disease.
It is important that the public takes extra precautionary actions whenever bitten by mosquitoes, especially those in rural areas. As the numbers of cases are increasing, controls and preventive measures are just as important. Below are some pointers to take note of, in order to minimise the risk of JE:
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