Assam is battling a deadly outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). The disease has claimed 388 lives over the past few weeks in the state.
What is the extent of the disease?
According to health officials, an estimated over 2,170 cases have been detected.Almost all 27 districts in the state have been affected.
Which is the worst hit district?
Sivasagar. The disease has killed over 45 people here. Ironically, Sivasagar is the headquarters of the JE vaccination programme that started in 2011.
What is the government doing?
According to health officials, fogging is going on in full swing. The health department is also organising public awareness campaigns. The department now plans a statewide vaccination drive in October.
What do doctors say?
Doctors say the shortage of medicines besides lack of special care units and laboratories has played a part in the massive outbreak of the disease. JE vaccines are produced only in China.
Why are Assam and other northeastern states highly prone to the disease?
It is because of their moist climate, deep forests and dense network of water streams. The virus cannot be transmitted from person to person, but mosquitoes carry the virus by feeding on domestic pigs and wild birds infected with the JE virus. These infected mosquitoes then transmit the virus to humans and animals. Culex mosquitoes, the principal vectors, are prolific in rural areas where their larvae breed in ground pools, especially in flooded rice fields. The JE virus is transmitted seasonally.