With two more deaths today, Japanese Encephalitis has claimed 48 lives in the past over one month in Malkangiri district of Odisha. Two children died at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the district headquarters hospital here, said Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) U S Mishra. Unconfirmed reports, however, put the toll at 50 due to the vector-borne disease which has affected around 45 villages spread over six blocks in the backward district. The deadly disease, which originates from pigs and spreads to humans, mostly children, through mosquitoes, has surfaced in the district around 35 days ago, officials said. Meanwhile, Health Secretary Arti Ahuja, who visited several disease-hit villages in the tribal district and reviewed the situation, said the vaccination drive would be launched in Malkangiri, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanjj and Jajpur districts in the 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, she said. Stating that the situation is being brought under control, Ahuja said the disease-afflicted children were undergoing treatment at the district headquarters hospital under the supervision of specialist doctors and pediatricians. While the death rate due to the disease has come down, many children are being cured and discharged from hospital after effective treatment, said the health secretary, who held detailed discussion with officials as well as villagers. Awareness drive has been stepped up across the district, while concrete steps have been taken to isolate pigs and shift the animals to specially prepared enclosures away from human habitats, she said. The health secretary had also visited the adjoining Koraput district yesterday to review the situation there.
She interacted with officials of all the departments concerned and discussed the required preventive measures to ensure that the disease did not spread to the district. Temporary check posts would be put in place in areas bordering Malkangiri to preventing pigs from entering into human habitats, officials said. Meanwhile, a Congress team headed by Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) President Prasad Harichandan is visiting the disease-hit district.
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