Rashmi Ranjan

The fear of suspected Japanese encephalitis or brain fever has gripped Purubai Kanyashram at Soro in Balasore district after five students reportedly tested positive for the viral brain infection on Monday, setting the alarm bells ringing in the State.

According to sources, samples of 26 inmates of the residential school undergoing treatment were sent for the test of which five samples returned positive.

Taking the matter seriously, the Health Department has shifted the five affected students along with two other inmates to the District Headquarters Hospital (DHH).  

Their health condition is stated to be stable, sources informed.

Earlier yesterday, Director of Public Health Dr Niranjan Mishra visited the spot and inquired about the health condition of the students.

"Samples of 25 students were tested and reports of five students have come positive. They have been shifted to Balasore hospital. Other students do not have symptoms, but they are under observation," said Mrutunjaya Mishra, Balasore Assistant District Medical Officer (ADMO). 

Notably, a Class 10 student of the Kanyashram died and 26 others were admitted to the hospital after they suffered diarrhoea and severe headache.

It can be mentioned here that a severe outbreak of Japanese encephalitis (JE) and acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) with high case fatality was reported from Malkangiri district of Odisha in September-November 2016 affecting 336 children with 103 deaths.

What is Japanese Encephalitis?

Japanese encephalitis is a viral brain infection caused by mosquito bites. 

The virus belongs to the same genus as dengue, yellow fever and West Nile viruses.

JEV is the main cause of viral encephalitis in many countries of Asia with an estimated 68 000 clinical cases every year.