With encephalitis virus killing more than 500 people in Uttar Pradesh, in a little over two months, the Union Health Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad seems to have finally realized the gravity of the situation. He has decided to take the matter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

Azad said that he would meet the Prime Minister and the Congress President with a proposal to make sure that the epidemic is under control. He said that long and medium term programs have to be created, in order to stop further spreading of the disease. He added, citing the seriousness of the issue, that his ministry would team up with others to tackle the disease.

What is Encephalitis?

Encephalitis is a virus that causes an acute inflammation of the brain. It can also be caused by bacterial infection, such as bacterial meningitis, spreading directly to the brain. Symptoms of the disease include headaches, fevers, a confused mental state, drowsiness, fatigue, convulsions, tremors, hallucinations, memory problems, drowsiness and, in advanced conditions, even a coma.


Ghulam Nabi Azad
Ghulam Nabi Azad

Children with mild conditions can be treated at home. Nevertheless, it is advisable, at least initially, to be treated at hospitals, in case intensive care is required. Antibiotics are not effective against the disease but antiviral drugs are used to treat some forms of encephalitis. Severe brain damage, related to this condition, causes death. Children below the age of one and adults above the age of 55 are at greater risk of falling victim to the disease.

How to Prevent Encephalitis?

The only means of preventing the contraction of the disease is to prevent illnesses that lead to it. Proper immunization, therefore, can help. Children should not be allowed to mix with people who have already contracted the disease.

In addition, it is advisable to prevent children from having exccessive contact with soil and instruct them to wear long-sleeved clothing when out of doors, as encephalitis can also be transmitted by insect bites.