Assam Japanese Encephalitis Update: Death toll rises to three

The deadly Japanese Encephalitis has claimed three lives in Assam in the past few weeks, health officials here said Thursday. So far, one person has died in Sivsagar district in Upper Assam, and two others have died in Guwahati. Joint Director of Health Services (Kamrup Metro) Bhola Koch said that six cases had tested Japanese Encephalitis positive in Guwahati, and two of these persons later died.

Four cases are under treatment at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH). "We have already collected 350 blood samples from the area. The positive cases of Japanese Encephalitis are reported and sent to the Mico Biology Laboratory in the GMCH for tests," he said. Koch added that all government as well as private hospitals have been instructed to report anyone found with Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) to GMCH within 24 hours of detection.

Sivsagar district's Joint Director of Health Services L.C. Bora said that one person died of Japanese Encephalitis in the district on June 10. "A total of 38 cases were reported from various areas of the district. However, only four persons tested positive," said Bora.

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Last year, at least 15 districts of Assam were severely affected by Japanese Encephalitis, which killed over 150 people. Sivsagar district recorded the highest deaths as well as positive cases. This had forced the Assam government to launch a vaccination drive to prevent the spread of the disease among adults - the only state to do so.

In 2006, the state had launched a similar vaccination programme to prevent the disease among children aged between 1-15 years.
Health officials have also currently launched an awareness drive about the illness. According to WHO, the Japanese Encephalitis virus is transmitted by mosquitoes belonging to the Culex Tritaeniorhynchus and Culex Vishnui groups, which breed easily in flooded rice fields. The virus circulates through birds like herons and egrets, while pigs act as the amplifying hosts.

Source: IANS

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