By Jonas Reyes and Charina Clarisse Echaluce
A total of seven people are reported to have died due to Japanese encephalitis in Central Luzon as the number of cases of people stricken with the mosquito-borne disease in the country rose to 133, the Department of Health (DOH) said.
Based on the DOH figures released on Tuesday, there are already four fatalities due to the disease in Pampanga; two in Zambales; and one in Nueva Ecija.
On a national scale, already nine people have been killed by the so-called “Japanese mosquito” – including one in Laguna province in Southern Tagalog (Region 4-A) and another in Pangasinan in Northern Luzon (Region 1).
But Pangasinan Provincial Health Officer Ana De Guzman told The Manila Bulletin that the case in the province is still “being confirmed and investigated.”
Like Dengue, Japanese encephalitis is acquired via a mosquito bite that is carrying the disease. Some of the symptoms include fever, headaches, abdominal pain, seizures, and brain swelling. Worst case scenarios include going into a coma and death.
Currently, there are a total of 133 cases of the disease that were recorded from January 1 to August 26.
As such, the DOH plans to put the vaccine against Japanese encephalitis in the list of publicly mandated vaccines under the expanded immunization program next year.
With the price ranging from P3,500 to P5,000 each, families living under the poverty line would have a hard time procuring the vaccine and due to the social media scare, there has been a dwindling stock of the vaccines at pharmacies. (With a report from Liezle Basa Iñigo)