Japanese encephalitis cases in Taiwan rise to 31: CDC

Taipei, Five people in Taiwan were recently diagnosed with Japanese encephalitis, bringing the number of cases in the country so far this year to 31, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Tuesday.

Kuo Hung-wei (???), deputy head of the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Center, said that in the period July 15-21, five people were confirmed as infected with the disease.

The patients, aged 34 to 56, were from Taoyuan's Bade and Pingzhen districts, New Taipei's Sanchong District, Nantou County's Ren'ai Township, and Changhua's Fuxing Township, he said.

CDC physician Huang Wan-ting (???) said the patients developed symptoms of fever and suffered impaired consciousness or unconsciousness between June 30 and July 16.

Currently, the five patients are hospitalized and undergoing treatment, Huang said, adding that four of them had been living in areas near pig pens or rice fields, which are considered high risk for the transmission of Japanese encephalitis since they are prime breeding grounds for the mosquito that carries the virus.

The confirmation of the five infections brought the total number of cases in Taiwan this year to 31, the CDC said.

In Taiwan, Japanese encephalitis is usually prevalent from May to October each year and peaks between June and July, according to CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (???).

The disease is transmitted mainly by the Culex tritaeniorhynchus mosquito, which breeds in rice fields, ponds and irrigation canals, according to the CDC.

It has advised that people avoid visiting such places and animal farms, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, and use a government-approved mosquito repellent and wear light-colored clothing that cover their limbs if they must go to such areas.

According to the CDC website, the symptoms of Japanese encephalitis are often mild -- fever and headache -- but approximately 1 in 250 infections are characterized by a rapid onset of high fever, headache, stiff neck, disorientation, coma, seizure or spastic paralysis, and can result in death.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel