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Maharashtra, India: Japanese Encephalitis

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    Posted: October 22 2017 at 8:03am

done/rahulsJE virus creeps into state’s virgin areas

TNN | Oct 22, 2017, 00:25 IST

Pune: Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), which was confined to Maharashtra's eastern districts till recently, has started spreading to hitherto virgin areas — the state's western region, affecting over 16 people here this year so far.

This shift in transmission base of the virus is being observed for the first time in Maharashtra, indicating the virus's greater adaptability.

"Maharashtra has recorded a total of 21 JE cases this year so far. Of these, 16 cases were recorded outside the endemic areas, including Pune (3), Jalna (9), Raigad (2) and Solapur (2) this year so far," M S Diggikar, joint commissioner (vector-borne diseases), state health department, said.

The detection of these cases outside the purportedly endemic areas of the JE virus has set alarm bells ringing.

State surveillance officer Pradip Awate said, "We have been diagnosing the virus outside the endemic areas, mainly western Maharashtra and Marathwada region, for the last one-and-a-half years. This means that the virus's endemic areas are expanding. It sure warrants a close watch."

Awate also underlined the need for an in-depth study to gauge the virus's adaptability to different environs and vectors.

"Culex vishnui is a mosquito that is the most common vector (carrier) of JEV in India. We need to find out whether it has made other circulating mosquitoes also its vector (carrier) in its fight for survival. For that, we need to draw pools of different types of mosquitoes prevalent in our parts to rule out the presence of JE virus in them," Awate said.

Experts also underlined that the JE virus has stayed underdiagnosed. Infectious diseases expert Bharat Purandare said, "Cases of viral encephalitis occur around the year, but we may be underdiagnosing JE as the test availability is not widespread."

He said, "The disease is surely underdiagnosed due to non-specific signs and symptoms. Doctors need to keep a high index of suspicion and work up each case of viral encephalitis to a specific diagnosis to find out which virus has caused that encephalitis."

In Pune, three cases of JE have been detected this year - two from Pune Municipal Corporation limits and another case from the rural parts of the city.

Consultant neurologist Bhushan Nilkanth Joshi of Columbia Asia hospital said, "JE is a disease, which has been rarely observed among urban population. As for the detection of the two cases in the city, the vectors of the JE virus most probably originated in other cities and sustained themselves for a long period of time. But, there is no reason to panic as man-to-man transmission of this disease is not documented."


Break up of JE cases

Place Cases

Jalna 9

Pune 3

Raigad 2

Solapur 2

Bhandara 2

Nagpur 1

Gadchiroli 1

Osmanabad 1

Total 21

(Between January 1 and October 17)

State watch

* Till 2001, there were no JE cases in the state

* From 2002, sporadic cases were reported, mainly in the eastern districts

* In 2016, eight cases of the disease were recorded — Chandrapur (4), Gadchiroli (2) Nagpur (1) and Gondia (1) districts

* In 2015, there were seven cases of JE — Nagpur (3), Gadchiroli (3) and Wardha (1)

* There was only one case in 2014, and no cases were recorded in 2012 and 2013

* In 2016, two cases were detected in Pune city and another in Solapur in whic the patient had died of JE related complications

* In 2017 so far, state health department has recorded 21 cases of JE in Maharashtra

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