Monsoon hazard

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/5/2019 1:03:50 PM IST

 Monsoon also heralds the onset of various diseases related with the environment. Monsoon does reduce the body immunity and makes it susceptible to many diseases commonly associated with the weather. There have been some severe cases of viral fever and malaria while health authorities are working on various ways to combat threat from these diseases. What is also a matter of concern is the report that around 46 people have died of Japanese Encephalitis in nearby Assam. According to reports most of upper Assam districts, including Jorhat, Golaghat, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur, and the lower Assam district of Kamrup have been affected by the mosquito-borne disease. The health authorities in Assam have stepped up preventive measures by opening more diagnostic services for Japanese Encephalitis with Elisa kits. In all district hospitals and government medical college hospitals, awareness programmes intensified and fogging operations stepped up in areas from where Japanese Encephalitis cases have been reported. Japanese encephalitis is a mosquito-borne disease caused by the Japanese encephalitis virus and spread primarily by the Culex mosquito. Humans are considered accidental hosts of the virus, that is, the virus primarily infects animals, namely pigs and water birds (herons, egrets). The Culex mosquitoes prefer biting during the night. They prefer breeding in polluted water, ditches, paddy fields or in water with lots of vegetation. These species typically bite cattle, pigs, and birds, and may accidently bite humans if they are in the same environment or in close proximity to these animals - e.g. farmers or people living in rural areas where agricultural activities are common. The virus does not live in humans for very long and is usually present in very small quantities so a feeding mosquito can’t pick up the virus from an infected person and spread it to another person. Japanese encephalitis can be diagnosed by examining the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to detect the virus in patients complaining of neurological problems and living in endemic countries of Asia. In endemic areas, the highest age-specific attack rates occur in children of 3 to 6 years of age. JE is mostly a disease of children and young adults. Rates of infection in the 3 to 15 year age group are five to ten times higher than in older individuals, because of high background immunity in older individuals. Approximately one third of patients die, and half of the survivors suffer severe neuropsychiatric sequelae from the disease. In Asia, pigs are considered to be the most important amplifying host, providing a link to humans through their proximity to housing. Less than 1% of people infected with Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus develop clinical illness. In persons who develop symptoms, the incubation period (time from infection until illness) is typically 5-15 days. Initial symptoms often include fever, headache, and vomiting. Most cases of Japanese encephalitis do not show any symptoms. There is no specific treatment available for Japanese encephalitis; appropriate management of symptoms is crucial. This involves use of pain relievers, medication to reduce fever and plenty of fluids. Usually, patients showing neurological symptoms will be admitted to hospital for observation and supportive care. Stagnant water, drains etc are breeding places for mosquito and pigs as hosts. Therefore, health authorities have to gear up to combat the disease while public need to ensure a clean environment to deny outbreak.

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