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Hot weather easily raise number of Japanese encephalitis patients
14:54, 2014/07/11
As of last Friday, more than 350 encephalitis patients had been reported across 32 provinces and cities, a 10.8 per cent drop on the same period last year, according to the department. Six fatalities have occurred so far, with one of the dead victims, from Ha Noi`s Ba Vi District, said to have been diagnosed with Japanese encephalitis.
Despite a steady decrease in the number of encephalitis and Japanese encephalitis patients in recent years, the Ministry of Health has warned that summer temperatures could see a rebound in the number of cases, particularly in northern Viet Nam.
Tran Dac Phu, director of the Department of Preventive Medicines under the Ministry of Health, issued the warning at a conference on Wednesday.
The National Paediatrics Hospital is currently handling 69 cases of Japanese encephalitis, compared with five handled by the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases.
Phu said the diseases were caused by different kinds of virus strains including the Japanese encephalitis virus. Patients often suffered brain damage from the disease resulting in long-term damage or fatalities, he said.
Children under 15-years-old were especially vulnerable to the disease, added Phu.
The disease appeared at the beginning of the year and has seen a steady rise in the summer months.
The vaccine against Japanese encephalitis was adopted into the National Immunisation Programme in 1997.
After an initial roll-out in some high risk provinces and cities the vaccine was gradually expanded to more localities.
Last year the vaccine was used in 60 provinces and cities and was supplied free-of-charge to children under-five-year-old in all 63 provinces and cities.
The health ministry prepared 4 million of doses of Japanese encephalitis vaccines this year, an increase of 1.7 million doses compared with the previous year.
It also assigned experts to check and advise on disease prevention in different localities. Information on the disease has also been disseminated to raise awareness.
Experts from the health ministry warned that to prevent Japanese encephalitis, residents should monitor hygiene levels at home and at work.
Livestock cages should be placed away from houses and cleaned regularly to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. 
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