Already reeling under the attack of dengue and cholera, death of 18 persons in Malkangiri district in a span of two months has shaken the Health Department out of its slumber.
A Joint Director-ranked officer will head to Malkangiri on Saturday to probe the deaths. A team from MKCG Medical College and Hospital, Berhampur, is in a state of readiness to camp in Korukunda block where the deaths have taken place.
Though preliminary investigation has revealed that the deaths were caused due to acute respiratory infections (ARI), the Health Department is unwilling to take any chances given the alarming rate of deaths.
According to the report of Chief District Medical Officer of Malkangiri, the mysterious ARI has claimed 18 lives in September and October. The deaths were reported from about five villages of Korukunda block and the victims were children between four days and 14 years.
Director, Health Services, Dr. Dipak Prusty said the Joint Director will assess the ground situation and submit a report, basing on which a medical team will be sent from MKCG Medical College to ground zero.
Reports reaching here revealed that at least seven deaths were recorded in one village alone, Potel, in the last one month. “We could not find any common reason for the deaths but have sent at least 12 blood samples to Bhubaneswar for investigation,” Malkangiri CDMO Dr Sashi Bhusan Panda told this paper.
In fact, the district health officials carried out tests for malaria, diarrhoea and measles but all the medical examination results turned out to be negative, prompting a further investigation into the deaths.
While Potel has been the epicentre of the deaths, four other villages in the vicinity too reported deaths. Dr.Panda said, health camps are being organised in the villages for the last five days and situation is now under control. The Health Department sources apprehend that emergence of encephalitis in the region could be a cause of the deaths in the district.