Even before the peak season of encephalitis,Acute Encephalitis Syndrome has already claimed 80 lives in Uttar Pradesh. In spite of infrastructural support,including new ventilators and separate wards for encephalitis patients in BRD Medical College,Gorakhpur,as well as continuous awareness campaigns in the area,the number of cases and deaths are constantly increasing in the eastern part of the state.
The peak season of encephalitis is considered to be between July and September,when maximum number of cases are reported. As per the state government figures,till June 2,334 cases of AES have been reported across the state whereas 80 patients with AES have died. However,none of these are confirmed as Japanese Encephalitis cases.
Till June 2011,346 cases of AES,including three of JE,were reported. The number of deaths was lower last year,with 60 patients with AES succumbing to the disease. By the end of 2011,however,around 3,500 cases of AES were reported and the toll was more than 550.
Last year,Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had visited Gorakhpur and promised infrastructural support to the BRD Medical College,Gorakhpur. Four new ventilators were sanctioned by the Union government under the NRHM. Former CM Mayawati had announced a 100-bed special ward for encephalitis patients in BRD Medical College,for which Rs 18 crore was released. An 80-bed ward was reserved for encephalitis patients. Various campaigns were undertaken to create awareness regarding hygiene,safe drinking water and prevention of encephalitis.
The cases are slightly more in number than last year. Number of deaths have also increased, said Dr Ramji Lal,Director General,Medical and Health. He said that since AES is a water-borne disease,the only method of prevention is providing safe drinking water. We have moved a proposal to arrange for safe and clean drinking water in the AES affected area. We have trained officials from various departments in these areas to create awareness among people about safe drinking water and rushing AES patient to nearest CHC-PHC at the earliest, said Lal,adding that if the measures being taken now are successful,the AES cases may be controlled during the peak season.
The number of cases of JE,on the other hand,are quite controlled. Experts give credit to the special vaccination drive against JE in 2010 for the low number of cases. The response of the vaccine is up to 80 per cent and if the routine immunisation for JE is continued,it can be well controlled this year, said Dr M M Gore,in-charge of the Gorakhpur unit of National Institute of Virology.