BHUBANESWAR/MALKANGIRI : As the deadly Japanese Encephalitis menace refuses to die down despite all possible measures, Malkangiri administration cancelled dussera holidays of all government officials in the district to meet the challenges posed by the vector- borne disease. On Wednesday, four more children succumbed to the disease taking the death toll to 34 in 27 days.
While 20 kids are still undergoing treatment in the district headquarters hospital (DHH), several children, showing symptoms of encephalitis, are under observation at the medical relief camps opened in the affected areas. Since pigs are the host and carriers of the virus, the administration has begun isolation of the animals which are being shifted from areas close to human habitations to the enclosures at least 3 km away. The enclosures are being built from NREGS funds and the villagers who are engaged will be paid to guard the pigpens.
Speaking to mediapersons at Bhubaneswar, Principal Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department Arti Ahuja said the mortality rate of JE is high and around 30 per cent of the affected persons die despite treatment. “We have made multi-pronged strategies to control the menace. Isolation of infected pigs and regular fogging in the villages are two major factors which would help curbing the spread of the disease. Besides fogging, bio larvicides are being sprayed on water bodies to kill mosquito larvae. After first round of fogging, presence of mosquitoes in the villages has dropped by 400 times,” she said.
The district administration also has been asked to complete the shifting of pigs within the next few days and ensure that no sale of pig is allowed in any village as it may act as a source of infection from one area to another. According to Ahuja, 67 children have been affected by Japanese Encephalitis and 30 died, of which around 15 are found to be affected by vector-borne virus while the rest died of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES). “As many as 14 pigs were tested JE positive of the 21 whose blood samples were sent for tests. It means more than 60 per cent of the pigs are infected with Japanese Encephalitis virus,” she said. On the mounting death toll, the Health Secretary said treatment of ailing children was delayed as the villagers initially took them to quacks and went to hospitals only after their condition deteriorated.
“The Collector has been asked to bear transportation expenses of patients from their village to hospital,” she said. On the demand of shifting of ailing children to AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, Ahuja said it is not recommended to shift the patients who are undergoing treatment in serious condition as they may develop complications en route. “That’s why all arrangements have been made at the DHH for their treatment,” she said and added that vaccination of children cannot be done during the period of infection. The Centre has advised that vaccination should begin only after November. Meanwhile, former MP from Nabarangpur and Congress leader Pradeep Majhi staged a dharna by keeping the body of a kid in front of the Collector’s office demanding a compensation of ` 5 lakh for the family of each of the deceased. He also sought better healthcare facilities and filling up of vacant doctors’ post in the DHH.