BHUBANESWAR: The blood samples collected from disease-affected under-weight children in Nagada village in Jajpur district have tested positive for Immunoglobulin M (IgM) confirming prevalence of measles.
Health officials collected the samples from children under three years of age and an adult following death of 18 Juang children allegedly due to malnutrition between September and June.
Since under-nourishment is a major factor affecting the children and their mothers in the village located on the top of a hill, protein deficiency accompanied by measles might have turned fatal for the kids who have died in last 10 months, a health official said and added that non-availability of healthcare facilities in their localities only added to their woes.
Though no autopsy could be conducted on 17 children, the postmortem report of a kid who succumbed on June 28 confirmed that the child was suffering from protein energy malnutrition along with malaria and other health complicacies.
Of the 12 blood samples tested by the virology diagnostic lab of Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC), Bhubaneswar, 11 were found IgM positive. While nine blood samples were sent for tests by the district headquarters hospital (DHH), three including one of a 60-year-old were collected by the visiting RMRC team.
Sources at the DHH informed that along with the sexagenarian, 11 children have tested measles positive exposing the lies of the officials concerned who were claiming of complete coverage of the district under the immunisation programme.
Health experts alleged that the infection in the adult confirms that he was carrying it since long or may have contracted from the local haat where the tribals residing in hilltop areas generally congregate once in a week.
"Not only children, adults have also never been covered under any immunisation programme during their infancy. Since the village is located atop the hill and is inaccessible by road, it is difficult for health workers to reach there," the official said and informed that a team conducted a immunisation drive in the village on Monday.
Most of the residents of Nagada and its adjacent Guhiasal, with a population of 589, are suffering from malnutrition since they consume only rice, green leaves and salt. In case of non-availability of rice, they consume roots and wild mushrooms collected from the forests.
The adult villagers who are yet to be included in the NREGS hardly have any idea about farming. Though some get old age pension of `300 per month, others depend on daily wages. They walk at least 30 km daily to get work in villages located along the foothill.