THE Department of Health (DOH) wants to include the Japanese Encephalitis virus (JEV) in their mass vaccination program.
Records from the DOH showed that since 2015 to the present, eight JEV cases were reported in Cebu.
The inclusion of JEV in the vaccination program will not, however, be immediately implemented because the DOH will need to procure the vaccine, the process of which is tedious.
“We will actually call everyone. Hopefully at the end of the year. Para next year, definite na,” said National Immunization Program coordinator Dr. Hayce Famor- Ramos said.
The vaccine will be given for free.
“Pero dili pud ihatag sa tanan. Hinay-hinay na siya actually (It will not be given to everybody. It will be done phase by phase),” Ramos added.
JEV vaccines are commercially available at P2,500–P4,000 per dose.
According to Dr. Shelbay Blanco, medical officer of the DOH Central Visayas, there were eight confirmed cases of JEV from 2015 to 2017, all of them from Cebu province.
In 2015, there were two cases, 2016 had five confirmed cases with two deaths, and one case during the first quarter of 2017.
The JEV, an endemic virus in Southeast Asia, belongs to the family of dengue, zika and chikungunya as it is mosquito-borne.
Dr. Van Philip Baton of DOH-7 said what made JEV different from zika and chikungunya is that it is the mosquito species called Culix that is its carrier.
“Ang nakalahi ani niya kay naggikan ni siya sa mga kahayupan sama sa baboy og mga water fowls and other migratory birds,” Baton added.
(Culix mosquitos get the virus from from animals like pigs, water fowls and other migratory birds, which it bites.)
Symptoms include fever and minor headache.
However, Baton said once the virus reaches the central nervous system, it may cause paralysis on some parts of the body which can lead to coma or even death.
As it may have the similar symptoms with dengue and targets the younger population, Baton urged the parents to seek medical attention immediately if symptoms show.