I can't keep track of the numbers when the Indian health authorities themselves can't define the difference between various kinds of encephalitis. For what it's worth, here's a July 22 report from The Times of India: Japanese encephalitis toll at 52, number expected to rise. Excerpt:
GUWAHATI: As of Monday, the death toll of victims of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) rose to 52 in the state, with lower Assam being the region worst affected by the disease.
The total number of JE positive cases registered in Assam on Monday was 323. Additionally, the number of deaths caused by Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) is at 160 while 947 AES infected cases have been registered in the state. AES is a group of diseases that may or not pertain to JE.
The Barpeta district has remained the worst affected district in the state as the death toll rose to eight from five deaths within one week and confirmed positive cases jumped from 41 to 54 by Monday.
The rural area of the Kamrup district recorded 34 cases with four patients succumbing to the virus. The district also recorded 90 positive AES cases that led to 13 deaths.
The JE death toll in Assam climbed drastically to 52 from 31 in less than a week and is expected to climb further ass close to nine districts in lower Assam await vaccination while the state government mulls a plan of action.
Last week, chief minister Tarun Gogoi issued directives to health officials and the chief secretary to take necessary measures to curb the spread of JE.
Health officials expressed that the increase in positive cases from lower Assam is a sudden spurt that has baffled the health department. It is for the first time that lower Assam has recorded so many positive JE cases and the department is yet to ascertain the exact reasons behind the rapid spread of this infection.
What is giving impetus to this sudden spurt in JEV cases is not presently known, but it has been established that the JEV virus requires an agent, an environment and a host in order to thrive.
"The immediate focus is on treating the people affected with JEV and rescuing them. The need is for a proactive approach," said B Bhagawati, the state surveillance officer of the Intermediate Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP).