Assam: 60% Acute Encephalitis Syndrome cases undetected, says expert


GUWAHATI, June 19, 2018: According to an ongoing research, around 60 per cent of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) cases remain undiagnosed in Assam.

As per to an expert involved with the project, around 30 per cent of AES cases are likely to be those suffering from Japanese encephalitis (JE).

Nearly 178 people, of the 2,077 diagnosed with AES in Assam in 2017, died.

Assam has reported 60 AES cases this year till April 30 but no casualties so far.

In collaboration with US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the project was started in 2016, so that AES cases can be treated or diagnosed effectively.

"We are trying to diagnose AES cases with the help of this project at Gauhati Medical College Hospital and Assam Medical College Hospital," the expert said.

The main symptoms of AES are acute onset of fever, confusion, disorientation, inability to talk and seizures. Other clinical symptoms may include an increase in irritability, somnolence or abnormal behaviour.

After the first outbreak of encephalitis in Assam in 1978, virus isolation from a brain tissue was done at AMCH in Dibrugarh. It was only in the early eighties that health experts learnt about JE.

A pilot project on JE diagnosis was carried out at a primary health centre at Gogamukh in Lakhimpur in the late eighties.

"In 2008, we took up the JE/immunoglobulin (IgM) diagnostic programme when IgM diagnosis and testing facilities became available. Under the ongoing project, all AES cases need to be reported and studied. We need to strengthen our AES surveillance system," the expert said.

Blood samples of some undiagnosed AES cases in 2017 were sent to Atlanta-based CDC for third generation genome testing to find the presence of unknown virus. The genome testing is part of an ongoing project on AES between CDC, Nimhans, Bangalore, and the Assam government.

The expert said, "These are blood samples which have not yet been diagnosed for any disease. The samples will need further exploration".

Source: The Telegraph

Featured image: India TV/ Telegraph