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Dengue falls, encephalitis up

The number of dengue cases in the Kingdom is continuing to dwindle, but health officials noted a spike of rainy season-induced Japanese encephalitis over the weekend.

On Saturday alone, 112 children at Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital were diagnosed with encephalitis – brain-swelling – that was caused in approximately 40 of the cases by Japanese encephalitis, a severe mosquito-borne infection with a one-in-four fatality rate. Although the virus is thought to be endemic in the region, there is no nationwide data on infections and mortality, and, though vaccine-preventable, there isn’t national immunisation.

“We have to get more people vaccinated for Japanese encephalitis to reduce transmission,” said Dr Dennis Laurent of Kantha Bopha, which is offering free vaccines to children.

Meanwhile, the hospital reported an 80 per cent reduction in cases of dengue haemorrhagic fever over the same period last year.

The National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria reported on Saturday that there have been 12 deaths and 1,635 dengue cases in the first seven months of this year. The fatalities are down 66 per cent and the number of diagnosed cases dropped 85 per cent from the same period last year.

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