Public urged to take precautions as Taiwan CDC confirms 7 new Japanese encephalitis cases

(photo courtesy of Taiwan CDC)

(photo courtesy of Taiwan CDC)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)--The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) on Tuesday (June 12) announced that seven new Japanese encephalitis cases have been confirmed in Taiwan.

The new cases include one in Taichung City, one in Changhua County, one in Chiayi County, one in Tainan City, and three in Kaohsiung City, according to the agency.

As the Japanese encephalitis season (May-October) has arrived, Taiwan CDC advises people who frequent mosquito-prone areas such as pig farms and rice paddy fields to take precautions against mosquito bites and ensure age-appropriate children receive Japanese encephalitis vaccination in a timely manner in order to ward off infection.

The seven new cases age between 17 and 70, and their onset dates vary between May 19 and June 5, the agency said, adding that during the period of communicability, they developed symptoms such as fever, headache, and consciousness disturbance. As of now, three cases are hospitalized in the intensive care unit for treatment, twp cases are hospitalized in the general ward in stable condition, and two cases have been discharged, according to Taiwan CDC.

According to the agency's epidemiological investigation, thus far this year, as of June 12, a total of 12 Japanese encephalitis cases have been confirmed in Taiwan. All the 12 cases live in or work near a high risk environment where there are vector breeding sites nearby, Taiwan CDC said.

During 2013 and 2017, the number of Japanese encephalitis cases confirmed respectively was 16, 18, 30, 23 and 25, according to the agency.

The primary vector of Japanese encephalitis is a species of mosquito, Culex tritaeniorhynchus, which breeds in rice paddy fields, ponds, and irrigation canals. To prevent infection, avoid visiting vector-breeding sites such as pigpens at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, the agency said. When needing to visit mosquito-prone places, people are advised to wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and apply officially approved mosquito repellent to exposed body parts to prevent mosquito bites and lower the risk of contracting Japanese encephalitis, the agency added.