As Japanese encephalitis claimed at least 38 lives in Odisha’s Malkangiri, a BJP fact-finding team visited the affected areas on Friday and held the state government responsible for the “alarming” spread of the disease in the tribal-dominated district.
The toll due to Japanese encephalitis that stood at 36 mounted to 38 following the death of two more children who were undergoing in the district headquarters hospital here, chief district medical officer (CDMO), US Mishra said.
Unofficial sources, however, put the death toll at not less than 41, while around 60 patients suffering from the deadly vector-borne disease are now undergoing treatment at the hospital.
According to Malkangiri district collector K Sudarshan Chakravarthy, as many as 33 villages, spread over six blocks of the district, have so far been affected by the disease which broke out nearly a month ago.
At least 14 mobile health teams were engaged to tackle the situation, teams of doctors and experts from Berhampur and Bhubaneswar also camped in the district as part of the ongoing drive to contain the disease, he said.
The collector has also directed government employees to undertake a massive awareness drive in the district about the disease in collaboration with local representatives.
As the killer disease gets transmitted from pigs to mosquitoes and from them to human beings, particularly children, the administration has already started isolating pigs away from human habitats by keeping them in special enclosures, officials said.
The collector has cancelled Dussehra holidays of government officials in the district in view of the situation and has asked them to keep a vigil on the situation.
Meanwhile, a BJP fact-finding team led by party’s state unit secretary Bhrugu Buxipatra visited the disease-hit areas and interacted with both villagers as well as health officials and others.
Holding the state government responsible for the “alarming” situation, Buxipatra said though the disease had been surfacing at intervals in the backward district since 2011, the Naveen Patnaik regime failed to take concrete steps to prevent its recurrence.
The state government has not only failed to arrange vaccines in time, it was also unable to check spread of the diease which has claimed so many lives, he said, adding that the Centre is keen to extend all necessary cooperation and help to the state in tackling the crisis.
Meanwhile, angry over death of children due to Japanese encephalitis, people in several remote villages who rear pigs for their livelihood, resorted to killing the animals on their own, officials said.
Meanwhile, Japanese encephalitis appeared to have spread outside Malkangiri also as two cases of the disease were reported from Balasore and Puri districts, officials said.