Scrub typhus is key encephalitis cause in eastern U.P

8/8/2018 207 Social Issues | Health | View Recent Current Affairs

  • As per recent findings by a team of experts, Scrub typhus is key encephalitis cause in eastern U.P. This finding is important, given that the mite-borne disease can be treated easily if doctors look for it early.

About Encephalitis:

  • Encephalitis is a disease carried through mosquitoes, which breeds in unclean environments.
  • Japanese encephalitis, transmitted through the culex mosquito, cripples the affected individual.
  • The mosquito breeds amongst some animals especially pigs but also on pools of water besides other places.
  • Culex also breeds in places which are difficult to eradicate: Gardens, parks and similar areas. Public accumulation of waste is fertile ground for breeding of the culex and its eggs and poor sanitation is key to a rampant unbroken cycle of the virus.
  • The disease is curable through vaccinations but the poor healthcare system is a major impediment to its eradication.
  • According to one report, India ranked 154 out of 195 countries in terms of access to healthcare, lagging far behind countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Ghana and Liberia. While India spends only 5 percent of its GDP on public healthcare, China spends 10.4 percent of its budget on healthcare.

Encephalitis in India:

  • Due to various factors such as non-availability of expert doctors, manpower, lack of funds and red tape, it becomes difficult to provide professional healthcare to patients at government health facilities. As such, inviting social institutions and entrepreneurs to run such facilities on government lands provided at nominal cost would help provide professional healthcare service to poor and middle class patients.
  • The offensive against encephalitis requires a major public health offensive that examines all breeding sites and intermediate hosts especially pigs.
  • Medical entomologists have a crucial role to play in identifying local factors that could break the cycle of breeding.
  • Public health surveillance is invaluable in clamping events that will decimate the burden of the infection. High risk individuals need to be vaccinated after counselling. While making such steps mandatory does not work, the value of human life must be weighed against unvaccinated individuals.

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