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Hepatitis B fear stalks Modasa,19 dead

With 19 deaths and 70 positive cases reported within a fortnight in north Gujarat’s Modasa town...

Ayesha Khan & Amrita Didyalamodasa (sabarkantha) | Published: February 18, 2009 12:49 am

With 19 deaths and 70 positive cases reported within a fortnight in north Gujarat’s Modasa town,state Health Minister Jay Narayan Vyas has said it could be hepatitis B outbreak caused by contaminated injections.

While health officials are not able to locate so far from where it all started,in Modasa,they are issuing advisories to avoid injections,IV drips unless absolutely necessary. Meanwhile,the high death count has experts from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) camping in the town to ascertain if it is hepatitis B or hepatitis D outbreak.

On Tuesday,with the death of casual labourer Jesa Raval (54),the death toll rose to 19. Jesa’s son Jitu Raval said his father died within a week though he was taken to three different doctors,had a blood test done and lastly,was admitted to Modasa’s Sarvajanik Trust Hospital (STH). “He died within two days,it looks like a very different jheri kamla,” Jitu said. Jheri kamla or poisonous jaundice is how locals refer to the outbreak as fear stalks Modasa.

The deaths are being reported from not only Modasa,but neighbouring villages and talukas as well. The health officials are finding the going tough as the 19 who died and those who have reported positive have diverse background and residential addresses. On Tuesday,the Chief District Health Officer (CDHO) released an advertisement in a local daily asking all those,who might have taken injections or been on an IV drip,done tooth extract or any operative procedure with slightest symptom of jaundice,to get admitted for free treatment in STH.

On Tuesday the Health Minister said,“It is now identified as hepatitis B outbreak. We have ruled out that infection has been caused by a pregnant woman — from mother to child,also,this does not appear to be due to blood transfusion. It is some contamination transmitted by way of injections.”

Dr Vidya Arankale of NIV,who also visited Modasa with other experts,said the mortality rate was high and in a day’s time they would be able to ascertain if it was hepatitis D outbreak or not. Experts said hepatitis D outbreak had not been reported in India so far.

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