DEPARTMENT of Health-Cordillera Administrative Region (DOH) Entomologist Ursula Segundo reminded the public with the execution of 4S to fight the Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus.

During a media forum held at the DOH Secretary’s Cottage, Segundo emphasized that the 4S stands for search and destroy mosquito breeding places, self-protection measures, seek early consultation for fever, and say yes to fogging when there is an impending outbreak.

Japanese encephalitis is a viral disease characterized by the inflammation of the brain. It is transmitted by Culex tritaeniorhynchus, a night-biting mosquito which is common in rural and agricultural areas, often associated with rice farming.

The virus is passed on from animals like pigs and birds to humans through the Culex mosquito bite and the common symptoms of which are fever, chills, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and confusion. These early symptoms are similar to those of dengue, but the differences surface only when JE gets severe.

In worst cases, JE may result to seizures, paralysis, and coma which may further lead to death.

Segundo said the disease is endemic in other regions in the country and the same has already gained foothold in the Cordillera region. JE was first detected in CAR in 2015 with 13 cases from Benguet, Kalinga, Apayao, and Mountain Province. Based on the result of investigation, seven cases had no travel history outside the region.

On the reported rise of demand on JE vaccine, Maria Socorro Sarfati from the Department of Neurology of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center clarified having a vaccine at this time is not the answer to JE cases. Hence, the public should not panic about it.

“Now is not the time to take vaccines. This is the peak of cases and you might have complications from the vaccination. If the immune system of those affected are weak, the vaccine may cause more problem. Thus, the best way to combat this disease is to remove mosquito breeding sites and improve sanitation,” Sarfati said.

On the other hand, Segundo warned the public against accessing JE vaccines from online sellers and other unauthorized distributors/ retailers.

This is in accordance with the public advisory issued by the Food and Drug Administration, No. 27-265 dated September 6, 2017. The said advisory conveys that consumers availing from these distributors are at risk of having vaccines of poor quality and worst, at risk of having counterfeit drugs.

Sarfati added the health department is already preparing for the procurement of JE vaccines for children by 2018. (PR)