In an interview, Dr. Jessie Fantone, government epidemiologist for Central Luzon, said 149 JE patients have so far been brought to the Jose B. Lingad Memorial Hospital (JBL Hospital) here over the recent months.
“But this is because JBL Hospital is the only sentinel hospital for Japanese encephalitis in the entire Central Luzon,” he explained.
He stressed that the Regional Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Muntinlupa City equipped the JBL Hospital as the only one with diagnostic confirmatory facilities for JE cases. DOH records also showed that of the 149 JE patients, only 22 were from Pampanga.
Like dengue fever, JE is also transmitted by mosquitoes, but of different kinds. Aedes egyptimosquitoes carry dengue virus, while culex mosquitoes transmit JE virus.
Fantone noted, however, dengue fever cases have always far outnumbered Japanese encephalitis. “If we have 149 cases of Japanese encephalitis for a period of several months, dengue cases can number as much in only one day,” he said. Figures on dengue cases in Central Luzon as of yesterday were not immediately available.
Fantone said symptoms are similar in both dengue and JE. He said, however, that while patients of dengue who get cured go back to normal life, JE survivors are usually left with lasting symptoms similar to those who survived stroke because JE affects the brain.
He said the same preventive measures against the spread of dengue cases apply to JE, particularly the removal of water accumulation where mosquito carriers deposit their eggs.