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Virus alert: Kids in danger zone

DEADLY VIRUSES are making children their victims in a big way this year. One virus is crippling kids in West Uttar Pradesh while another is striking their brain in East Uttar Pradesh.

india Updated: Sep 03, 2006 01:41 IST

Encephalitis claims 9 more lives in UP

DEADLY VIRUSES are making children their victims in a big way this year. One virus is crippling kids in West Uttar Pradesh while another is striking their brain in East Uttar Pradesh.

On Saturday itself viral encephalitis killed nine children and infected another 77 in East UP. On the other hand, four fresh polio cases were reported in West UP.

Two cases were in Ghaziabad and one each in Varanasi and Baghpat districts.

The polio virus has already crippled 232 children in 30 districts of West UP and viral encephalitis has killed 152 children in 12 districts of East UP.

In view of the onslaught of the two viruses the State Medical Health and Family Welfare Department is busy reviewing its strategy to check the spread of both the diseases in the districts spared from the malaise till now.

Director-General, Medical Health and Family Welfare, Dr B Nath said in view of the spurt in the polio cases the department had decided to organise polio immunisation drive and routine immunisation in alternate months.

“Polio immunisation programme is scheduled in September. We would organise routine immunisation drive in October. The second round of polio immunisation drive will be held in November and routine immunisation of the children in December”, she said.

Majority of the polio cases have been reported in Moradabad division (109), Bareilly (39), Meerut (36), Shaharanpur (22), Lucknow (8), Agra (7) and Kanpur (4). Two cases have been reported in Faizabad and one in Basti.

In 2005 just 29 cases were reported and the department had announced that polio would be eradicated by end of 2006.

Reacting to the increase in polio cases Family Welfare Minister Ahmed Hasan said his department had planned to launch intensive and effective immunisation drives all over the state.

Officers in the department accepted that they had not been able to reach all children during the last immunisation drive. “Poor civic facilities added to our woes,” the officers rued. “There is need to create awareness among the masses so that they keep their surrounding clean”, they said. 

Speaking about the strategy of the Health Department on encephalitis front, Dr Nath said “officers have been directed to increase surveillance in districts where the outbreak of the suspected viral encephalitis have been reported. The chief medical officers of all districts have been directed to inform the headquarters about fresh cases immediately”.

“Medical Health Department is planning to organise the second round of the immunisation drive in five districts including Basti, Bahraich, Shravasti, Balrampur and Rae Bareli to protect children from the killer Japanese Encephalitis (JE)”, she said.

Last year 68 lakh children were immunised in seven districts -- Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Maharajganj, Deoria, Sant Kabir Nagar, Siddharthnagar and Lakhimpur Kheri.

In 2005, Japanese Encepahlitis had infected 5,581 children and 1,593 died. According to the Medical Health Department, 498 children who survived are leading a crippled life as the virus has damaged their brain. 

Though the Health Department has been able to neutralise JE virus, but a new virus -- Coxsackie -- is infecting children. Professor in Department of Microbiology, SGPGIMS, Lucknow, Dr TN Dhole said “through immunisation we have been able to check JE but new viruses, active in the region, are now infecting vulnerable children.”