Health Minister Harsh Vardhan Monday urged MPs, particularly from districts affected by Japanese Encephalitis, to educate people to boil water before drinking and immunize their children.Replying to a debate in Lok Sabha on the spread of encephalitis and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in eastern Uttar Pradesh and other areas of the country, he said there was a need to take preventive steps.Harsh Vardhan said 85 percent of the cases were from five states: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Assam.
"Let us ensure no child dies prematurely. Every child's death is preventable," he said.In 2014 alone, there have been 3,758 cases of AES from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam and as many as 687 deaths. The numbers of Japanese Encephalitis cases in these four states this year was 651 with 113 deaths.The minister said one reason why India was finding it hard to eradicate Japanese Encephalitis was that its virus had many hosts.Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain. It can be caused due to various pathogens including virus, bacteria ad protozoa. While Japanese encephalitis is a vector borne disease transmitted by a group of mosquitoes called Culex vishnui, encephalitis can also be caused by entero viruses which are water borne.