With a larger number of fresh animal and human blood samples collected from the city's high-risk areas, the Delhi government expects to know the actual extent of the spread of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) infection in a week's time. The mosquito-borne disease affects the brain that can lead to death.
"The samples taken for the initial testing were small, but with infection detected in the blood samples of about five people living around the areas from where cases were reported, we decided to go for a wider sample testing that would include slaughtered pigs as well," said a senior official from Delhi government's health department, requesting anonymity.
Those areas that have bird and pig population and water bodies, apart from the greenery are considered high-risk areas for the spread of JE infection. Some of the areas that have been covered are Ragubir Nagar, Mongolpuri and Shastri Park among others. The positive JE cases have been reported from Gole Market in central Delhi, northwest Delhi's Bawana, Pooth Khurd and Jahangirpuri and Inderpuri areas.
The report of the blood samples of 10 live pigs that were initially sent to the laboratory in Hisar turned out to be negative. "We have found infection in humans but pigs are our missing link, as these are the ones that play host to the JE virus. Apart from our lab in Hisar, we send samples for cross-checking to National Institute of Virology, Pune and National Centre for Disease Control as well," said the official.
"It has been established that these people contracted the infection in Delhi itself, by next week, we'll get to know how wide the problem is. There is nothing to feel alarmed about though," he added.
Five people have already tested positive for the disease in the past one month and antibodies of the JE infection were detected in about five people during the initial surveillance programme carried out by the state government soon after the positive cases were reported for the first time in Delhi.
"We have taken all containment measures like fogging and de-weeding of the water bodies to kill and prevent mosquito breeding in and around the affected areas," said Dr VK Monga, chairman, public health committee, Municipal Corporation of Delhi.