4th case of Japanese encephalitis in Taiwan this year confirmed

2017/06/19 17:51:14 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
CNA file photo

CNA file photo

Taipei, June 19 (CNA) A woman from the southern Taiwan county of Pingtung, has been confirmed as having contracted Japanese encephalitis, making her the fourth person to be infected with the mosquito-borne disease in Taiwan this year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said on Monday.

The 53-year-old patient sought medical treatment at a local hospital on May 26, after developing a fever, fainting and symptoms of consciousness disturbance, said CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥).

Because the symptoms persisted, the woman was transferred to another hospital for further treatment, Chuang added, noting that the case was then reported to the local health authority as suspected Japanese encephalitis and specimens submitted for laboratory testing.

The diagnosis was confirmed on Sunday.

Chuang said that after conducting an epidemiological investigation, the CDC found the patient had not recently traveled overseas, nor been vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis. Instead, she spent most of her time at home.

However, it was also noted that there is a pigeon and poultry farm approximately two kilometers from the patient's residence, he said, adding that currently none of the family members with whom she cohabits have experienced any symptoms.

Measures have been taken to prevent the further spread of the disease, including installing mosquito lamps around the residence of the patient and the places she frequents in an attempt to eliminate vector mosquitoes, according to the CDC.

So far this year, four cases of Japanese encephalitis have been confirmed in the country, including two in Kaohsiung and one in Tainan, CDC data shows.

Last year, a total of 23 confirmed cases were recorded around Taiwan, fewer than the 30 cases in 2015 but more than 18 in 2014 and 16 in 2013, the data indicates.

In addition, CDC data suggests that transmission of Japanese encephalitis in Taiwan mainly occurs annually between May and October and usually peaks between June and July. The agency notes that vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the disease.

As the primary vector, the Culex tritaeniorhynchus mosquito is known to breed in paddy fields, ponds and irrigation canals. People are advised to avoid visiting those places at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

People suffering from Japanese encephalitis can experience serious psychological or neurological symptoms with a mortality rate as high as 20-30 percent, according to the CDC.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan and Elizabeth Hsu)

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