A special vaccination drive to innoculate an estimated 48 lakh children aged between 1 and 15 years against Japanese encephalitis (JE) will be held in Karnataka starting December 5 for a period of three weeks.
Encephalitis is the inflammation of the brain caused by either infection or an allergic reaction. JE is one of the most common causes of encephalitis in India and a total of 68,000 cases are reported every year.
"Among these, the death rate is around 20-30 per cent. Of those who are cured, 30-50 per cent end up with sensory and motor weakness, and other permanent physical and mental disabilities," Karnataka Health Minister K. Sudhakar said on Sunday.
JE is caused by a virus called flavivirus and it is primarily transmitted by Culex mosquitoes. The virus is maintained in pigs and wild birds which are called amplifier hosts. While man is the dead-end host.
Speaking about the special vaccination drive, Sudhakar said that in the first week of December, the vaccination drive will primarily focus on private and government schools. Following this, in the next two weeks, the drive will focus on health institutions, anganwadi centres etc.
"The Union Health Ministry will be supplying us with the Jenvac vaccine to conduct the drive," he said.
Under the Universal Immunisation Programme in Karnataka, Bellary, Raichur, Koppal, Vijayapur, Chikkaballapur, Kolar, Mandya, Dharwad, Chitradurga and Davanagere districts are identified as the 10 endemic districts for this virus. In these districts, JE vaccine is given to children after they complete nine months, and the second dose is given at the age of 1.5 years.
(WIth inputs from IANS)