Japanese Encephalitis claimed two more lives today, raising the toll due to the vector-borne disease to 50 in the past one month in Malkangiri district of Odisha. Meanwhile, a police complaint was lodged against Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and several other ministers and officials in Malkangiri police station, holding them responsible for the death of children due to the disease in the district, police said. Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) U S Mishra said two children from Padia area died while undergoing treatment at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the district headquarters hospital here. Unconfirmed reports, however, pegged at 53 the toll due to the deadly disease which has affected around 45 villages spread over six blocks in the backward district. Japanese Encephalitis disease originates from pigs and spreads to humans, mostly children, through mosquitoes.
It surfaced in the district around 36 days ago, officials said. Though the disease had surfaced in the district way back in 2011, no effective preventive measure was taken by the government to check, they said. Ura Madhi, a resident of Kuimetla village in Kalimela block, lodged a police complaint against the Chief Minister and other officials alleging that the disease took a heavy toll because of negligence of state government, they said. He was accompanied by Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) President Prasad Harichandan and other senior leaders. "We have received the complaint and the matter is being examined," said Inspector In-Charge of Malkangiri police station R K Dash. Coming down heavily on the state government over the issue, Harichandan said Congress would launch a statewide "sishu banchao" (save the children) campaign from October 26 under the leadership of former MP Pradeep Majhi. The programme would take off from Malkangiri, he said. He has been visiting disease-hit areas since yesterday and holding discussion with officials as well as villagers. The state government is gearing up to launch a vaccination drive for Japanese Encephalitis in the four districts of Malkangiri, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanjj and Jajpur under first phase from December. As per the directive of the central government, the process of identification of areas where vaccination is to be undertaken will begin next month, according to Health Secretary Arti Ahuja.
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