November 16th, 2016
The death toll due to the Japanese Encephalitis outbreak in Odisha’s Malkangiri district has significantly increased from 73 to 115 in the past two weeks, with three more children succumbing to the disease at the District Headquarter Hospital (DHH).
The situation is very grave, and at present 18 children are undergoing treatment at the DHH. So far, 325 kids have undergone treatment for JE at the DHH. While 214 have been discharged, 14 are in the JE special ward, and 4 of them in ICU.
Almost 15 days ago, a 10-year-old boy Umesh Madhi narrated the ordeal of his village in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He appealed to him to help the people of his village after the disease claimed lives of 73 children in 505 villages in tribal Malkangiri district in Odisha.
“Save our lives. Many of my friends have died of Japanese fever. You are roaming around the globe. Can’t you come over to our village and see how children are dying here.” Umesh Madhi (10) said in his letter to Prime Minister.
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday visited Malkangiri to observe the situation there. Speaking to ANI, Pradhan said that situation is grim and assured full support to the state government.
Pradhan further said that Prime Minister Modi and Union Health Minister J. P. Nadda would be apprised of the matter and precautionary steps would be taken. Pradhan later held discussions with experts to conduct vaccination drives in Malkangiri in the last week of December.
Why is this worrying?
Japanese Encephalitis is a deadly disease which originates from pigs and spreads to humans, mostly children, through mosquitoes. The Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV) is closely related to the dengue, yellow fever, and west Nile fever viruses. Generally the patient suffers from mild headache and fever. As per World Health Organisation (WHO), about 20-30% cases reach a critical stage. Symptoms at this stage include fever, nausea, fatigue, headache, disorientation, neck stiffness, seizures, spastic paralysis, and ultimately death. About 30% of the survivors are left behind with permanent neurological problems such as paralysis, recurrent seizures, or the inability to speak. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease. The symptoms can be managed over time. But it is definitely preventable. WHO recommends the JE vaccines to be introduced in all countries as a part of the national immunisation programme.
Death of 42 children in a span of 15 days is truly concerning. The patients being from tribal backgrounds, and prevalent non-vaccination pattern can be considered to be the major contributors to this epidemic.
The Logical Indian appeals to the concerned authorities to take immediate action, and also for hospitals and NGOs to come forward to help with the immunisation drives.