Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 24498443
PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2014;8(1):e2533
Diverse aetiologies of viral and bacterial encephalitis are widely recognized as significant yet neglected public health issues in the Mekong region. A robust analysis of the corresponding health burden is lacking. We retrieved 75 articles on encephalitis in the region published in English or in French from 1965 through 2011. Review of available data demonstrated that they are sparse and often derived from hospital-based studies with significant recruitment bias. Almost half (35 of 75) of articles were on Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) alone or associated with dengue. In the Western Pacific region the WHO reported 30,000-50,000 annual JEV cases (15,000 deaths) between 1966 and 1996 and 4,633 cases (200 deaths) in 2008, a decline likely related to the introduction of JEV vaccination in China, Vietnam, or Thailand since the 1980s. Data on dengue, scrub typhus and rabies encephalitis, among other aetiologies, are also reviewed and discussed. Countries of the Mekong region are undergoing profound demographic, economic and ecological change. As the epidemiological aspects of Japanese encephalitis (JE) are transformed by vaccination in some countries, highly integrated expert collaborative research and objective data are needed to identify and prioritize the human health, animal health and economic burden due to JE and other pathogens associated with encephalitides.