Tourists warned about travelling to Bali after outbreak of deadly disease
Mums and dads, do read this before making travel plans to Bali and other high-risk areas for Japanese Encephalitis...
The Indonesian health ministry has apparently warned about the outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis in Bali.
According to news reports, Bali Province ranks first as having the most cases of Japanese Encephalitis in the country, followed by Manado and North Sulawesi.
Japanese Encephalitis (JE) is an infection of the brain caused by the Japanese encephalitis virus. It is an extremely rare and deadly disease spread through mosquito bites.
Mosquitoes, particularly the Culex mosquito, pick up the virus from feeding on infected birds and pigs. Infected mosquitoes can then transmit the virus to humans through their bites.
Signs of Japanese Encephalitis include fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, paralysis and convulsions, particularly in children.
In extreme cases, the disease can cause blindness, weakness, movement disorders, and even death (in 20-30% of cases). About 30% of survivors are left with long-term neurological impairments.
Australian travellers have already been warned about visiting Bali. They have been asked to stay in air-conditioned or screened rooms, and to avoid dirtier rural areas.
Ministry of Health Director of Surveillance and Quarantine (Indonesia), Vensya Sitohang, has been quoted as saying, “The cause of JE is that bats, mosquitoes, or other reservoirs act as carriers, like pigs or poultry that are usually living in dirty places.”
“To intervene with (the spread of) this disease, we have been introducing vaccinations in Bali with pretty good results. We are intervening with immunisations,” he said.
Symptoms of Japanese Encephalitis
Initially, the disease manifests with very mild symptoms, if any. The first symptoms of Japanese Encephalitis usually appear about 5-15 days after an infected Culex mosquito bites a human.
Here are the symptoms of Japanese Encephalitis:
- high fever
- shivering / tremors
- rigidity at the back of the neck, usually in adult patients
- disorientation coma (decreased consciousness)
- seizures, usually in paediatric patients
There is NO cure for Japanese encephalitis. Treatment focusses on relieving symptoms of the disease and managing complications.
Prevention is always better than cure. And one way to prevent this deadly disease, is to protect yourself from mosquito bites:
- Spray mosquito repellents that are suitable for your skin.
- Wear clothes that fully cover the body while outdoors.
- Use mosquito nets when asleep
- Avoid nighttime activities around paddy fields and pig farms. This is where most Culex mosquitoes reside.
The best and most protective method to prevent this disease is via the Japanese Encephalitis Virus vaccine.
It is better to take the vaccine if you are travelling to high-risk countries for JE with your little ones.
Many hospitals and GP clinics in Singapore provide the Japanese Encephalitis virus vaccine — do speak to your doctor about it.
Always remember to consult your doctor before getting vaccinated if you have serious allergies or are pregnant.