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Outcome and extent of disability following Japanese encephalitis in Indonesian children

Objectives
The study aimed to assess outcome, including level of disability, following Japanese encephalitis (JE) in children in Indonesia.

Methods
A cohort of children diagnosed with laboratory-confirmed JE from January 2005 to August 2006 was followed-up, with disability measured at least 4 months after discharge from hospital. An assessment tool that can be used to rapidly determine practical level of disability and the likelihood that a child will be able to live independently after illness, the Liverpool Outcome Score, was used.

Results
Of 72 children with JE, determination of outcome was possible for 65 (90%). Sixteen died in hospital or before follow-up assessment (25%). Sixteen children (25%) had severe sequelae, indicating their function was impaired enough to likely make them dependent. Five (7%) had moderate sequelae and 12 (18%) had minor sequelae. The remaining 16 children (25%) were considered to have recovered fully.

Conclusions
Half of the children with JE either died or were left with serious disabilities likely to impair their ability to lead independent lives, demonstrating the severe impact of JE. Immunization can effectively prevent JE, and an immunization program could avert some of the economic and social burden of JE disease in Indonesia.

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