DOH warns vs mosquito bites after 9 deaths from Japanese encephalitis

Mara Cepeda
DOH warns vs mosquito bites after 9 deaths from Japanese encephalitis
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial says the figure is 44% lower than the same period last year

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) urged the public to protect themselves from mosquito bites, following 9 deaths caused by Japanese encephalitis (JE) this year.

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said 9 deaths have been recorded so far, with 7 from Central Luzon, one from Ilocos, and one from Calabarzon.  

“JE confirmed cases nationwide [is at] 133 as of August 26, [which is] 44% lower than the same period last year,” Ubial said in a text message to Rappler. 

In a separate statement sent to reporters, the DOH chief suggested ways on how people can avoid getting mosquito-borne diseases like Japanese encephalitis, dengue, and chikungunya. (READ: Free dengue vaccine now available in Cebu, 4 Metro Manila cities)

“This includes getting rid of standing water, maintaining environmental cleanliness, and eliminating potential breeding places of mosquitoes – not only within our homes, but in the entire community,” said Ubial.

She said people should wear long-sleeved tops, pants, or socks to avoid mosquito bites. They may also use mosquito nets and apply insect repellants approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

“When we get sick or our children develop fever for two days or flu-like symptoms, seek immediate consultation at the nearest health facilities. Let us avoid unnecessary and indiscriminate fogging activities,” said Ubial.

Japanese encephalitis involves the inflammation of the brain. The disease is passed on to humans through the bite of the Culex tritaeniorhynchus mosquito, which is active during the day and night.  

In a statement, the DOH said Japanese encephalitis-causing mosquitos are usually found in rural and agricultural areas. In urban areas, they stay around houses with open water storage containers.

Persons bitten by this mosquito may not register symptoms 5 to 15 days after being bitten. Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and confusion. Severe cases include neck stiffness, seizures, paralysis, and comatose that may lead to death.  

Like other mosquite-borne diseases, cases of Japanese encephalitis tend to rise during the rainy season.

“Severe cases require prompt hospitalization. Treatment remains supportive only. Those who recover from severe illness may still show signs of neurologic complications such as paralysis, recurrent seizures, or inability to speak,” the DOH said. 

A vaccine, however, is available to lessen a person’s chances of getting Japanese encephalitis. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.