Date: Sun 23 Jun 2019
Source: The Independent [edited]
The number of encephalitis-affected children has almost doubled from last year's [2018's] count in different hospitals in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country. According to data provided by Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), more than 1200 patients affected by encephalitis were admitted in different hospitals across the country till 20 Jun this year . The number of affected patients was about 650 in 2018.
Experts say that though the number of patients has increased this year  from last year , there is no cause for panic. However, they suggest all to remain alert about the disease. Recently, encephalitis has claimed 142 lives in neighboring India. But the condition of Bangladesh is still under control, say doctors.
Sources say 2-3 children affected by encephalitis have been admitted to the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH).
IEDCR director Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora told The Independent that the number of affected patients has increased this year . "However, there is nothing to worry [about] right now," she said. "We collect data from across the country. Our surveillance team is working at the field level. In case of any trouble, we'll take immediate steps."
Dr Sayeeda Anwar, head of paediatrics at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, said there was nothing to worry.
Encephalitis, a rare life-threatening disease, is an inflammation of the brain tissue. The most common cause is viral infection. Symptoms of encephalitis can range from mild to severe. Mild symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, stiff neck, and lethargy. Patients should call the doctor immediately if anyone displays symptoms of encephalitis.
There are 2 main types of encephalitis: primary and secondary. Primary encephalitis occurs when a virus directly infects the brain and spinal cord. Secondary encephalitis occurs when an infection starts elsewhere in the body and then travels to the brain.
Mosquitoes are carriers of this disease [virus]. In addition, the disease can spread if anyone eats fruits that are eaten by bats and birds.
Prof. Khan Abul Kalam Azad, chairman of the medicine department of DMCH, said the disease resistance among children was low. In this case, there is no alternative to vigilance. "If we can take enough protection to protest this disease in due time, we'll able to minimise the number of patients in Bangladesh," he added.
[The above report, quoting health authorities, implicates aetiological agents responsible for these cases of encephalitis only indirectly. It mentions disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which implies cases due to infection with Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus. Bangladesh is well within that geographic area where JE virus is endemic. The officials also mention fruit eaten by bats, implying Nipah virus infection. Giant flying fox fruit bats (_Pteropus_ spp) are reservoir hosts of Nipah virus. The bats contaminate fruit as well as palm sap in collection pots, with cases occurring following human consumption in the Bangladeshi "Nipah belt" annually. Interestingly, no mention is made of other etiologies of encephalitis proposed in neighboring India, including consumption of lychees, as causes of acute encephalitis syndrome of children.
Encephalitis cases have been reported in Bangladesh before. Research from Bangladesh, published in the July 2017 edition of The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (see Ref. 1), has proven that it is not the fruit but a banned pesticide that is the actual culprit.
It would be interesting to know if laboratory tests have been done to confirm or rule out possible etiological agents of these recent cases in Bangladesh. Any further information from knowledgeable sources would be highly appreciated. - ProMED Mod.TY]
[Ref. 1: Islam MS, Sharif AR, Sazzad HMS, et al.: Outbreak of Sudden Death with Acute Encephalitis Syndrome Among Children Associated with Exposure to Lychee Orchards in Northern Bangladesh, 2012; The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene; 2017: 97(3): 949-957. doi: