Japanese Encephalitis toll 27 in Malkangiri; NHM sanctions Rs 50 lakh

Malkangiri: Taking note of the outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis which has claimed the lives of 27 children in Malkangiri district with the death of a three-year-old child this morning, the National Health Mission (NHM) today sanctioned Rs 50 lakh assistance in favour of the Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) for purchase of medicine and necessary equipment.

To take stock of the situation, Health minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, Health secretary Arati Ahuja, Animal Resources secretary and a team of doctors today arrived at the district headquarters here. The team later visited Palakonda and Koimetalai villages and reviewed the environment. The team also interacted with the villagers.

Talking to media persons, the Health minister said his department will have a detailed study on the outbreak of the disease. “A team of doctors and specialists who have come from Bhubaneswar, will stay in this district and take necessary measures to bring the disease under control. Along with the team, a team of doctors of the Animal Husbandry department have also come to the district to take concrete steps to isolate the infected pigs which are the principal carriers of the disease”, he added.

Asked whether the state government should be made accountable for its failure in containing the disease from spreading to other localities, Nayak said efforts will be made to find out the reason for the outbreak of the disease in the district. “We had taken steps to contain the disease in 2014. But considering that the pigs are the main carrier of the disease, we will take specific measures to isolate them from the human habitation”, he pointed out.

Replying to a question on non-availability of vaccines for the disease, the minister said as per the advice of the medicine experts, vaccines are not given to the infected patients. But he said apart from this, necessary arrangements will be made to save the lives of the patients.

According to Dr Jayant Panda, medicine specialist, unhealthy environment and mosquito bite are the factors responsible for the outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis. Massive breeding of mosquitoes, which are responsible for the disease, generally takes places in the human habitations where the pigs stay, he added.

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Talking about the symptoms of the disease, he said the patient initially suffers from mild fever, headache and vomiting. “If the disease is not diagnosed earlier, swelling occurs around the brain and the patient ultimately dies”, he noted.

Notably, the first incidence the disease was identified in Malkangiri district in 2011. While 15 children had died of the disease between 2011 and 2014, there was no report of any death in 2015. However, the disease this year has assumed alarming proportions in the district claiming the lives of 27 children so far.