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Japanese Encephalitis in India (Update)

13 Dec 2016

A media reportLink of the 9 December 2016 suggests that the Japanese encephalitis (JE) outbreak in Odisha’s tribal-dominated Malkangiri district may be slowing. The report asserts that no new patients with encephalitis syndrome have been admitted in Malkangiri district headquarter hospital in the last four days.

During the last three months approximately 120 children are alleged to have died due to JE. Notably consumption of Cassia occidentalis beans known locally as ‘bada chakunda’ is also alleged to have caused encephalopathy and deaths among children (the beans are toxic) though numbers where not detailed.

In response the office of the Chief District Medical Officer in Malkangiri implemented an ongoing 15-day-long mass JE vaccination campaign of children in the district (from 5 December 2016). Initially, children of all major schools in the district are being vaccinated. In the next phase, all other children will be vaccinated through grassroot level community approach. A total of 21 8027 children are to be vaccinated against JE in the district.

Advice for Travellers

Japanese encephalitis vaccine is recommended for certain travellers considered to be at risk; particularly during the high risk season. Travellers should also take steps to avoid mosquito bites.