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Six more encephalitis deaths in Bengal, toll 58


Siliguri, July 21 :

Six more patients died of Japanese encephalitis in northern West Bengal Monday, as the toll climbed to 58 over the past 19 days, health officials said.

With the half a dozen deaths reported from the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH), 12 people have perished due to the disease over the last two days as the disease assumed a serious proportion, said the facility’s assistant superintendent Rajib Basu.

In addition, one patient who died of high fever in the Jalpaiguri District Hospital last week had tested positive for Japanese encephalitis.
The victim breathed his last July 16, but the blood test report was received form NBMCH during the day, said hospital superintendent Sushanta Roy. The hospital does not have the facility to confirm encephalitis through blood tests.

Roy said so far ten people – admitted with high fever – have died in the hospital in the last two weeks.

Altogether, 110 people had admitted to the district hospital with symptoms of fever. Blood samples of 15 patients have been sent to the NBMCH.

NBMCH principal Anup Kumar Roy termed the outbreak as “very serious”, but stopped short of saying that the disease has taken an epidemic form in the region.

“What I can confirm the matter is very serious and we are taking every possible step to combat the disease from further spreading,” he said.

Meanwhile, a high level medical meeting chaired by state’s director of health services Biswaranjan Satpathi at the state’s branch secretariat ‘Uttarkanyaa’ in neighbouring Jalpaiguri district took stock of the situation and chalked out an action programme to combat the mosquito- borne diseases.

He later said the state health department has decided to set up fever clinics, with special diagnostic kits, in each of the seven northern Bengal districts – Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Alipuduar, Cooch Behar, Malda, North and South Dinajpur – and relocate pig farms in the areas in the grip of the disease.

He said over 80 encephalitis have been deaths reported from north Bengal this year.

Of the 344 reported incidences of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) and Japanese Encephalitis syndrome (JES), 83 fatalities have been recorded in 2014, he said.

“Out of the 83 deaths, 22 have perished due to JES. To control the spread, fever clinics will be functional from Tuesday in all seven districts in north Bengal.

“The clinics will screen only fever cases and if tests indicate encephalitis, then the matter will be referred to higher authorities for prompt treatment,” Satpathi told IANS.

Encephalitis is a disease that results in inflammation of the brain, affecting the patient’s central nervous system. It can be caused due to bacterial or viral infections of the brain, injection of toxic substances or increased complications of an infectious disease.

While the lesser symptoms include headaches and fevers, the more severe ones cause the onset of mental issues like seizures, confusion, disorientation, tremors and hallucinations.

JES is caused by a mosquito-borne virus. While human beings are the dead-end hosts of the virus, pigs acts as amplifying hosts that aid in spread of the disease.

“We asked the district administration to ensure the piggeries are located away from densely populated areas, with the help of the urban development departments in the districts,” Satpathi said.

In addition, fogging exercises in communities will be carried out to exterminate the mosquitoes, he said.