Japanese Encephalitis (JE) has claimed two lives in eastern UP, say local doctors. They said the disease had spread to Gorakhpur and Kushi Nagar districts, but officials from the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme claimed the cases were unconfirmed.
Twenty patients with JE-like symptoms have been admitted to the BRD Medical College and 11 of them are critical.
The JE deaths were reported from the Mitiram Adda Khorabar block. Four-year-old Gudia, daughter of Rajnath Nishad and Vinay, 6, son of Ram Naresh Patharkat, resident of Shivpur village, died on Wednesday at Khorabar primary health centre.
“Blood samples have come to Delhi for testing, but JE has not been confirmed yet. Many viruses cause symptoms similar to JE so confirmation is essential before reviewing why an outbreak is happening despite the massive vaccination campaign in the district,” said a senior official from the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme.
But state doctors said six new suspected JE patients were brought to the medical college in the past 24 hours. State officials claim JE had caused 46 deaths in the last seven months at the medical college alone. Others succumbed to the disease at the primary health care centres and private hospitals.
In 2006, the medical college saw 1,282 patients and 127 deaths. But despite the outbreak, the mass anti-JE vaccination has not really taken off. Talking to the Hindustan Times, Chief Medical Officer R.B. Verma said JE vaccination is routine and children up to 2 years are vaccinated each Saturday and Wednesday.
People who have been tracking the disease say it is the same story every year.
“VIPs talk of vaccination and prevention during an outbreak every year but forget once it is over. We need to start vaccinating in November itself,” said Dr Radhamohan Das Agarwal, a pediatrician-turned-MLA, adding that children needed vaccines urgently.