Diphtheria spreads tentacles, health teams visit affected village in Odisha

The visiting team from the health directorate is conducting a comprehensive survey to determine the cause of the outbreak and spread of the disease.
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only.

BHUBANESWAR : The diphtheria outbreak in Kashipur area of Rayagada district continues unabated with one more child being detected with the bacterial infection on Sunday. With this, the number of patients has touched 15.

The disease has so far claimed the lives of five children in Manuspadar village. While one case has been clinically confirmed, the rest four are suspected as their bodies were cremated before their samples could be drawn and sent for test.

Director of public health Dr Nilakantha Mishra said 15 children and adolescents have been so far detected with the bacterial infection and four among them are undergoing treatment. They are under medication and their condition is stable, he said.

A special team of health officials and experts from World Health Organisation (WHO) and Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) reached Manuspadar village to take stock of the situation following the direction of Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi.

“Separate teams of doctors led by chief district medical and public health officers of Kalahandi and Rayagada have been sent to the village for investigation. Mobile health teams are visiting door-to-door and conducting a survey to find out if there are any suspected cases. A team from the health directorate also visited the village to find the reasons behind the spread of the disease,” Dr Mishra said.

The visiting team from the health directorate is conducting a comprehensive survey to determine the cause of the outbreak and spread of the disease. Though it is preliminarily believed that mostly malnourished children fell victim to the infection, some health experts raised questions on proper vaccination of the children.

“There is no clarity on the vaccination status of three children who have already died in diphtheria. Their family members are also unable to confirm whether the children had completed the vaccine doses. Besides, we are also inquiring whether proper cold chains of the vaccines are being maintained while being transported to remote and hard-to-reach areas like Manuspadar,” said a health official.

Meanwhile, the Health department has directed the local officials to visit other villages close to Manuspadar in Kashipur block. They have been asked to collect swab samples from children with symptoms and send them for laboratory examination.

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