Authorities in Assam Friday sounded a health alert after 15 people died of Japanese encephalitis and hundreds more were down with the mosquito-borne disease in the past two weeks, officials said.
An Assam health department spokesperson said Japanese encephalitis had assumed epidemic proportions in the four districts of Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur and Dhemaji with close to a thousand people hit by the disease.
"We have alerted health officials across the state to take preventive measures to stop Japanese encephalitis from spreading to newer areas," Assam Health Director Dhruba Ojai told IANS.
The disease, transmitted from pigs through mosquitoes, strikes during the peak breeding period from April to September.
Encephalitis causes inflammation of the brain tissue, producing symptoms of high fever, headache, rigidity of the neck, and loss of voice and involuntary movement of the body.
"The situation is bad, with no specific drugs available for treating the disease," Hojai said. "The treatment is only supportive."
Authorities in some areas have conducted an encephalitis immunisation drive, besides fogging and spraying mosquito repellents to kill the vectors. "Prevention is the best medicine for dealing with Japanese encephalitis," the health official said.