News / Health

    Numerous Encephalitis Cases Devastate North India

    Vidushi Sinha
    Health officials in northern India report that a serious outbreak of Japanese encephalitis has infected hundreds of children. The viral brain disease, which can cause permanent disabilities and sometimes death, is a common seasonal disease in Asia. Experts say it is likely the virus also is spreading in other countries in the region, but is going undetected due to inadequate surveillance and diagnostics.

    In India every year, during the rainy monsoon season, hundreds of children die or become disabled, physically or mentally, after contracting Japanese encephalitis. Doctor K. P. Kushwaha is a senior pediatrician at a government hospital in Gorakhpur, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.  

    "We have the highest number of patients admitted in one day, which is 550 patients," said Kushwaha. "We have never got such figures in the past. In the current cases of encephalitis, the children not only have swelling in their brains, but their skin, kidney, liver and heart also show swelling.”

    "Japanese encephalitis is interesting because it is in animals as well as in people. This is a virus that will never be eradicated or eliminated,” said Dr. Julie Jacobson, who is trained in clinical tropical medicine and is a senior program officer at the Gates Foundation, a private  philanthropy.

    She explained that encephalitis is a zoonotic infection that is found in humans, as well as in a variety of domesticated and wild animals. Pigs and migratory birds pose a special danger because they are so-called "amplifying hosts" - they store the virus in large amounts in their systems without getting sick.

    When mosquitoes bite an infected pig or bird, they pick up the virus and can transmit it to humans when they bite them.

    Jacobson said Japanese encephalitis, when it is not fatal, can leave victims with severe physical and mental damage.

    “People’s personality changes - they have behavioral issues," she said. "A very striking finding is that within families when you are talking to them, the children who have survived, kids will not recognize a family member. So they will be crying, crying to talk to their sister, 'I want my sister, I want my sister I want to talk to my sister' - it is very devastating for families to have that kind of disability that comes to the household.”

    Health experts say the best way to protect people against this crippling disease is to immunize them with the encephalitis vaccine. They recommend that children especially be routinely vaccinated. Jacobson said there also is an urgent need for public health agencies to step up surveillance and diagnostic operations in endemic countries - to look for early signs of encephalitis and take steps to limit its terrible toll.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ronan Kelly from: USA
    September 22, 2012 7:32 AM
    Japanese Encephalitis is playing a part in the outbreaks in UP, but up to September 6th, of 1,148 samples tested, only 58 came back positive for JE. It is suspected that much of the encephalitis is caused by enteroviruses introduced through contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for this, but updated water infrastructure could vastl improve the situation. To focus solely on JE vaccination will not solve the problem.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora