The toll in Japanese Encephalitis (JE) on Saturday mounted to 39 with three more children succumbing to the disease in Odisha’s Malkangiri district even as the state government refused to go for immunisation. At least 39 children have so far died due to the disease and steps were being taken to contain it, a statement issued by the Health and Family Welfare department said, adding that more doctors were being sent to the affected district.
Though the disease has taken an epidemic form with all the kids dying in a span of 30 days, state Health Minister Atanu S Nayak said, “We cannot go for immunisation now as per the directive of the Centre. It has made it clear that immunisation cannot start now in both affected and unaffected areas.”
Claiming that the state government had sought permission from the Union Health Ministry to go for immunisation, he said, “It (immunisation) has been counter-productive during the transmission period of the disease. National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme’s Director AC Dhariwal has categorically warned against going for immunisation now. This has been counter-productive in Assam and Tripura.”
Nayak said the top priority of the government was to expedite the treatment of those affected at the district headquarters hospital (DHH) in Malkangiri.
He said, as per reports received by the Health department, 116 JE and suspected JE patients were treated or are being treated in Malkangiri of whom, 25 have completely recovered and discharged from the hospital.
The remaining 53 children were under treatment and a majority of them were stable, barring three, who have been admitted to the ICU. Nine doctors, sent from the headquarters, are currently camping at Malkangiri to monitor the condition of the patients. Doctors have also been engaged at the Community Health Centre (CHC) in Kalimela.
The minister said the district administration has taken steps to isolate pigs from human habitations. “One of the notable features is that the awareness level among the people of the affected villages about the disease has gone up substantially as they are now admitting their children to the hospital, instead of taking them to village quacks,” he said.
Nayak said JE cases reported from Nilagiri in Balasore district and Brahmagiri in Puri were “isolated” ones. “We have sought status reports from the respective district health officials,” he said.
The state Managing Director of National Health Mission (NHM), Shalini Pandit, said, “A state-level control room with six members has been set up to monitor the situation. We have sent all the necessary medicines, equipment, doctors, staff nurses and laboratory technicians.”