Odisha's Kashipur back in news with diphtheria deaths, CM orders investigation

Sources said the deaths due to diphtheria have been reported for the first time in recent years.
Representative image
Representative image

BHUBANESWAR: Once infamous for starvation deaths, Kashipur in Rayagada district is back in news for a spate of deaths of children allegedly due to diphtheria prompting Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi to direct the state Health department and Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) to inquire and find out the reasons for such cases and take all possible steps to bring the situation to normal.

As the affected village Manuspadar is a remote and hard-to-reach area, the chief minister has also directed the Panchayati Raj department to provide drinking water supply and construct a motorable road to the place at the earliest.

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Odisha: Suspected diphtheria toll rises to five as one more kid succumbs

While five children have died in the bacterial infection over a period of one month, the Health and Family Welfare department has confirmed one death due to diphtheria and the rest have been categorised as suspected due to lack of evidence. The children, who fell to diphtheria, are aged four, six, 11, 15 and 18. Of the five deaths, four of them were not brought to any health facility or provided treatment and they were cremated at community level.

“But they are suspected to be cases of diphtheria. An 11-year-old girl, weighing around 15 kg, who succumbed a couple of days back, had tested positive for diphtheria. She was malnourished and could not be brought to the nearby health centre for treatment due to resistance from her family members,” said a senior health official.

Three more children are undergoing treatment and their condition is improving. Antitoxin injections have been sent on Saturday. A team of health officials visited the village, conducted door-to-door screening and collected swab samples from children with symptoms, the official said.

Sources said the deaths due to diphtheria have been reported for the first time in recent years. Though only one case of diphtheria was detected last year in Balasore, the child recovered following treatment.

The Health department is also verifying the vaccination status of the deceased children. While the vaccination cards of two of them have been found so far, the department is unsure whether the rest were inoculated.

“Further investigation is on and we are closely monitoring the situation,” said Health secretary Shalini Pandit.

Diphtheria is a bacterial infection caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae, which is transmitted through close contact with infected individuals through respiratory secretions like coughing, sneezing, or talking.

The bacteria releases a toxin that can harm the organs, potentially leading to severe complications or death.

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