KOTA KINABALU, June 29 — The Sarawak Health Department has urged the public to be cautious after confirming that Japanese Encephalitis (JE) is endemic in the state, with two new cases discovered in the last two months.
The Borneo Post Online reported Sarawak health director Dr Jamilah Hashim as saying that one case was recorded each in May and this month, bringing the number of JE cases in Sarawak to five since January this year.
Ten cases were recorded throughout last year.
With the confirmation, health officials are surveying 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.
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.
The five cases this year were recorded Kota Samarahan, Lawas, Julau, Kuala Baram and Sri Aman.
Staff from the Sri Aman divisional health office will visit 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
“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.
JE is a type of viral brain infection that can affect both humans and animals, and is passed to humans from infected animals through the bite of an infected Culex mosquito.
An infected person develops inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and suffers symptoms such as sudden onset of headache, high fever, neck stiffness, tremors and convulsions, muscles weakness and even coma.
There is currently no cure for JE, making the vaccine the best defence against the virus.