21 April, 2021

Recurring AES Outbreaks Demand Preventive Measures

Preventive measures are key to improving overall outcomes. Vaccinations against JE, varicella, measles, mumps and rubella virus have been widely successful in preventing outbreaks such as AES.

Photograph by PTI
Recurring AES Outbreaks Demand Preventive Measures

The World Health Organisation defines Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) as a constellation of symptoms like acute onset of fever and altered mental status—confusion, disorientation, irritability and impaired speech with or without seizures in a person of any age, occurring at any time of the year. It can be caused by infection, inflammation or toxic metabolic reasons, leading to affliction of the brain tissue.

Two medical terms need to be understood in this context: encephalitis and encephalopathy. The former is almost always accompanied by inflammation of the meninges (protective tissues that cover the central nervous system). The latter is a physiological derangement of brain function caused by metabo­lic conditions: very low blood sugar level, kidney or liver failure, disturbed fluid and electrolyte balance, drugs or toxins like lead, mercury, pesticides to food-related toxins, like, possibly those in litchis.

The term AES collectively includes enc­ephalitis as well as encephalopathy and hence can have myriad causes. In most AES cases, the cause is...

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