Encephalitis toll tops 1,000 in South Asia
An outbreak of Japanese encephalitis has killed more than 1,000 people across South Asia, most of them children, officials said Tuesday.Updated: Sep 24, 2005 21:21 IST
An outbreak of Japanese encephalitis has killed more than 1,000 people across South Asia, most of them children, officials said Tuesday.
The death toll from the mosquito-borne disease reached 1,038 after Nepalese officials reported that 271 people have died in the Himalayan kingdom. The death toll in India's northern Uttar Pradesh state stood at 767 on Monday.
But the disease appears to be on the wane in Nepal with the end of monsoon rains, said Harinath Acharya, spokesman at the Health Ministry in Katmandu. The rains create puddles and ponds where the mosquitoes can breed.
The higher numbers from Nepal reflect delayed reports of deaths reaching health officials, Acharya said.
Officials have faced great difficulty in gathering data from Nepal, as most deaths have been in rural villages far from towns and cities that are often reachable only by narrow mountain trails.
Until last week, officials were only reporting 204 people killed by the disease.
Most of the deaths have been reported around villages in the Banke district, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) west of Katmandu.
Japanese encephalitis has sickened 1,665 people this year in Nepal, Acharya said.
Officials have said there was a shortage of vaccines in Nepal, but officials have been trying through diplomatic channels to import more from neighboring China to help prevent a similar outbreak next year.
The government has sent medical teams and thousands of mosquito nets to affected areas.
Japanese encephalitis causes swelling of the brain. Symptoms include high fever, seizures and vomiting.
First Published: Sep 24, 2005 21:21 IST