GUWAHATI: At least 22 people died while 59 positive cases of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) have been detected in Assam.
The latest death was reported from southern Assam’s Karimganj district on Monday. The deceased was a school teacher.
The situation forced Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan to rush a team to Assam to take stock of the situation. The team, headed by Additional Secretary Sanjeeva Kumar, has senior officers from the National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme.
The Central team on Monday met senior officials of the state’s health department and suggested measures to contain the outbreak of the vector-borne disease.
“Basically, they wanted to know from us what we are doing to tackle the situation. We spoke about our strategies and they gave us certain suggestions. We also discussed how we can ensure coverage of 100 per cent JE vaccination,” said Dr Umesh Phangso, State Programme Officer of National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme.
He said the state’s health department had been focused on ensuring 100 per cent coverage of the JE vaccination. If that can be done, Assam will be ridden of JE, he said.
“Till June 30 this year, JE has claimed 21 deaths in Assam. I heard one more person died in Barak Valley today. Fifty-nine positive cases have been also reported. By the same time last year, the state had recorded 72 cases and 13 deaths,” Phangso said.
He said the deaths were reported from Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Goalpara, Cachar, Darrang, Kamrup (Metro) and Kamrup (Rural) districts. JK positive cases were also reported from Lakhimpur, Dhemaji and Sivasagar districts.
“The treatment is symptomatic and patients need to be kept in the ICU. We don’t have any dearth of medicines and we have testing facilities as well,” he said.
Health officials said they were spreading insecticides in affected areas to be able to tackle the menace. They also resorted to fogging.