KUCHING: The Sarawak Health Department is calling for caution after confirming that Japanese Encephalitis (JE) is endemic in the state.
Its director Dr Jamilah Hashim said as a result of the confirmation, department officers are conducting a survey on children aged 15 years old and below for JE vaccination.
“The Health Department is currently taking action in order to prevent the Japanese Encephalitis infection from spreading.
“One of the steps taken is engaging the community in order to identify those who fit the criteria for vaccination and have never received previous JE vaccinations,” she told The Borneo Post yesterday.
Subsequently, vaccinations will be given to those who have been identified so that they will be fully protected against JE infection, she added.
The survey will be done within areas in Sri Aman, namely Kampung STC, Taman Mewah, Taman Alamanda, Taman Azba, Kampung Sabu Cina, Taman Sri Jaya, Taman Desa Indah, Taman Sing Sing, Taman Makmur, Taman Salam, Taman Suria, Taman Vistagrow, Taman Sabu, Taman Gamang, Kuarters Perubatan, Kuarters Persekutuan Jalan Sabu, Kedang Cina and Kampung Kedang.
Staff from the Sri Aman divisional health office will visit all the houses within the areas, and have been doing so since Tuesday. Visits are from 5pm to 8pm on weekdays and 8am to 5pm on weekends.
“All residents staying within the areas involved are strongly encouraged to cooperate with the health staff during their visits.
“Families with children aged 15 years and below are required to prepare documents such as identification cards, birth certificates and child health cards or clinic cards,” Dr Jamilah said.
She revealed that one JE case was recorded each in May and this month, bringing the total number of JE cases in Sarawak to five since January this year. A total of 10 cases were recorded throughout last year.
The five cases this year were recorded Kota Samarahan, Lawas, Julau, Kuala Baram and Sri Aman.
JE is a type of viral brain infection which can affect both humans and animals, and is passed to humans from infected animals through the bite of an infected Culex mosquito.
The main carriers of this virus are pigs and some bird species. It cannot be passed from person to person.
An infected person develops inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and suffers symptoms like sudden onset of headache, high fever, neck stiffness, tremors and convulsions, muscles weakness and even coma.
Once a human is infected, the treatment given is only to relieve the symptoms, supporting the functions of the body as it tries to fight off the infection.
About one in four patients may die from the disease.
Those who survive take many months to make a full recovery and up to half of are left with permanent brain damage.
There is currently no cure against JE, thus the JE vaccine is the best way to protect against the virus.