The Jharkhand health department on Tuesday issued an alert spooked by the rise in mosquito-borne Japanese Encephalitis (JE) cases in the state, calling it a bigger threat than dengue.
Rani Kumari, 10, a resident of Latehar district became the fifth child in Jharkhand on Monday to be diagnosed with JE in the past fortnight. In the last six months, 37 children in Jharkhand were diagnosed with the infection, of which 17 were diagnosed at the Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Hospital (MGMCH) in East Singhbhum.
Transmitted from pigs and wild birds to mosquitoes, JE can lead to severe neurological defects by affecting the central nervous system, leading to tremors and paralysis in humans, said doctors.
"JE affects children in the age group of 1-15 years and can lead to life-long nerve and neurological defects. It is a bigger threat than dengue in Jharkhand. The virus is dominant in seven districts. We have asked hospitals to be prepared. In rural areas, we have asked people to keep pig sty clean to avoid mosquito breeding," said Integrated Diseases Surveillance Project director, Dr Ramesh Prasad. He added that unlike dengue that cannot breed in the hilly terrain, JE is local to the state.
"Most dengue cases under treatment have contracted the disease in New Delhi, Bihar and Karnataka," said Prasad. Monu Prasri, a 14-year-old dengue patient, succumbed to the disease at Muskan hospital, Bokaro on Monday night, making it the first death from the disease in Jharkhand, officials said. Last year, according to the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), 90 children were diagnosed with the disease.
"The retreating monsoon only increases chances of spurt in cases. Districts officials have been directed to keep adequate stocks of supportive medicines. The health department has also asked for weekly reports," said director-in-chief Jharkhand health services, Dr Sumant Mishra.
The RIMS administration and Ranchi Life Savers (RLS) has appealed to the city people to volunteer as Single Platelet Donors (SPD) to help dengue patients in need of platelets. RIS founder Atul Ghera said that getting instant platelets was possible in Ranchi because RIMS has an apheresis machine that allowed blood banks to take the blood from the donor, spate out platelet and return the blood in the body.
"It is a two-hour process. We have asked people on Facebook to join in. A WhatsApp group will help us reach the donors. We will have 10 donors under each blood type ready to donate at any time," said Ghera.