MoH confirms six more cases of Japanese encephalitis

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BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Ministry of Health (MoH) has confirmed six more cases of Japanese encephalitis (JE) infection, bringing the number of reported cases in Brunei Darussalam to nine.

Eight of the nine confirmed cases of the disease were reported in the Belait District, while there was one reported case in the Brunei-Muara District.

“From the nine cases, five (patients) have recovered and (been) discharged while four are still receiving treatment at hospital, including two in the Intensive Care Unit,” the statement said.

It added that JE infection had never been previously detected in the country.

It is one of the mosquito-borne diseases transmitted by the Culex mosquito. It is not transmitted from human to human. In a small proportion of cases, JE infection can cause symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. After a few days, the infection can also affect the sufferer’s mental status, cause neurological symptoms, weakness and movement disturbances.

Convulsions can also occur especially with children.

“There is no specific treatment for JE infection. Treatment is more focused on symptomatic relief and close monitoring in hospital, if necessary,” said the statement.

It further added that routine entomological surveillance had shown that Culex mosquitoes are found throughout Brunei. The mosquito breeds on the surface of stagnant water – in dirty drains, swamps and muddy potholes. Adult Culex mosquitoes are also often found in between plant leaves and fronds particular those of the banana tree. The mosquito breeds multiple times during the rainy season. It bites between the late afternoon and nighttime.

Following the outbreak of the disease in Brunei, the Ministry of Health has undertaken prevention and control measures with a focus on the Belait District where the majority of the cases have been reported.

These measures have been taken with the cooperation of relevant agencies, especially the Belait District Office, the Kuala Belait and Seria Municipal Department and the Department of Agriculture and Agro-Foods, as well as members of the community. These include entomological surveillance, vector control through the use of insecticides, health education sessions, cleanup campaigns and animal health monitoring.

The public has been advised to take the following preventive measures:

• Destroy mosquito breeding places and spend 10 to 30 minutes at least once a week inspecting the compound in which they live to ensure that the environment is free from mosquito breeding areas.

• Ensure that all drains and waterways are clean, functioning well and unblocked.

• Level land surfaces that can pool water or fill them up with soil or sand.

• Wear long-sleeved clothing and long trousers, while avoiding dark coloured clothing as this will attract mosquitoes.

• Use insecticide spray, mosquito coils or mosquito repellant plates.

• Use insect repellant especially for outdoor activities if necessary.

JE infection is currently under control, said the statement. The Ministry of Health, however, will continue to monitor the situation and take necessary measures, including informing the public of any developments. Anyone with suspicious symptoms is advised to seek immediate medical attention at the nearest health centre or hospital.

For further enquiries the public can contact the Ministry of Health “Healthline” at 145 or send an email to env.health@moh.gov.bn.

The Brunei Times