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Representative image

Over 100 Ashram school students test positive for malaria in Odisha's Rayagada

On Saturday as the test reports came, it revealed that 103 of them were malaria-positive.

BERHAMPUR: Malaria has reached alarming levels in Rayagada district, with over 103 students from an Ashram school at Anchalbadi village in Kalyansingpur block testing positive for the disease within the past week.

Following the reopening of schools managed by the SC & ST Development department, students returned to the school last week when about 15 students suffered high fever symptoms. In response, the district welfare department urged the health department to investigate.

A health team subsequently collected blood samples from approximately 230 students. On Saturday as the test reports came, it revealed that 103 of them were malaria-positive.

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Rayagada, which experiences malaria outbreaks annually, claims to have implemented measures to prevent the disease’s spread. However, this recent detection has raised concerns about the effectiveness of these efforts.

The district health department has now intensified its efforts to screen students across the district. Although the exact number of affected individuals remains undisclosed, authorities indicated that details will be available after screening is completed.

The district welfare department had informed CDMO Dr LM Routroy in writing about the situation on July 2, 2024, requesting immediate action. The affected children are currently undergoing treatment and are reportedly recovering, according to CDMO sources.

However, with the disease spreading rapidly among students, there is growing concern that the general population may also be at risk. Locals have called for comprehensive screening in suspected areas under strict supervision.

Official records show that malaria tests were conducted on 3,23,318 individuals between January and July 2023, with 4,844 cases reported, including 533 children aged under five.

Despite claims of ongoing measures, efforts to sensitise the public have been limited to accessible areas, leaving remote regions neglected.

In April 2024, a malaria outbreak was reported in tribal villages at the foothills of Niyamgiri hills in Muniguda and Kalyansingpur blocks, where affected individuals received treatment.

Just last month, the block faced a diphtheria outbreak that claimed four lives, revealing a gap in vaccination efforts despite records indicating achievement of targets.

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