MANILA - Nine people have succumbed to Japanese encephalitis (JE) disease this year, the Department of Health confirmed Monday.
Four of the fatalities were from Pampanga province, 2 others were from Zambales while the 3 remaining deaths were recorded in Pangasinan, Laguna and Nueva Ecija.
The victims were among 133 patients diagnosed with the mosquito-borne disease between January 1 and August 26 this year, the DOH said.
Of the total, 53 cases were recorded in Central Luzon.
Japanese encephalitis is transmitted by the Culex mosquito. There is no cure for the disease, whose symptoms include headaches, fever, vomiting, and difficulty moving.
Less than one percent of those bitten by Culex mosquitoes develop Japanese encephalitis, said DOH Undersecretary Gerard Bayugo.
Those who experience the symptoms of the disease however face a mortality rate of 20 to 30 percent.
"Hindi naman lahat ng nalilipatan ng JE na virus ay nagkakarooon ng symptoms o sakit, less than 1 percent lang ang nagdedevelop into sickness. Pwedeng nakagat ka andyan ang virus sa iyo, pero pwedeng natalo ng sistema ng katawan mo, but somehow that also gives you a little protection alread," Bayugo explained.
"But that 1 percent na nagkakaroon ng problema, abot 30 to 50 percent of them, nagkakaroon ng cognitive malfunction... Ang mortality about 20 to 30 percent ang namamatay doon sa nagkakaroon ng senyales ng JE."
Bayugo said the latest tally of JE cases is not alarming since the death toll was still low. He urged the public to take necessary precautions nonetheless.
The Department of Health is set to introduce the JE vaccine in their immunization program early 2018. The vaccine is already commercially available. -- Report from Kori Quintos, ABS-CBN News