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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Govt plans special cell to detect outbreaks in flood-affected Bihar

The move is aimed detecting early signs of disease outbreaks. Nearly 200 dengue patients have been receiving treatment in various hospitals since September 28 when heavy rain pounded the state.

india Updated: Oct 11, 2019 07:30 IST
Rhythma Kaul
Rhythma Kaul
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
People walking on a street in Rajendra Nagar, Patna, Bihar, October 3, 2019.
People walking on a street in Rajendra Nagar, Patna, Bihar, October 3, 2019. (AP Dube / HT Photo )
         

The Union health ministry is setting up a special surveillance cellfor epidemic-prone diseases in flood-ravaged Bihar, which has reported at least 1,000 cases of dengue so far this year, officials said.

The move is aimed detecting early signs of disease outbreaks. Nearly 200 dengue patients have been receiving treatment in various hospitals since September 28 when heavy rain pounded the state.

The surveillance cell will also look for signs of acute encephalitis and Japanese Encephalitis (JE) to assist the central government-run Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), which already runs a unit in the state to monitor disease outbreaks.

The health ministry on Friday sent a team of experts from National Institute of Malaria Research, National Centre for Disease Control, among others, to Bihar to assist in managing patients and controlling the spread of infection.

“The IDSP state unit will be strengthened to focus specifically on common diseases being frequently reported from the state that tend to take epidemic proportions. It will be over and above of what the state unit does. A nodal officer has been identified to run this cell,” said Sanjeeva Kumar, special secretary (health), health ministry, who visited Bihar on Friday.

To deal with the current outbreak, a central control room has been created in the state to report daily updates.

“I was in Patna on Friday with the minister of state for health, Ashwani Kumar Choubey, to review the situation arising from flood and action taken by the state government. He chaired a high-level meeting with state and central government officials and experts that included state health minister and heads of prominent hospitals and outbreak investigators,” he added.

Apart from the current dengue outbreak, Bihar also reported a high number of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and JE cases this year, which claimed the lives of at least 150 children so far.

“The entomologists [experts who study insects] in the central team have begun their investigation and will be reporting their findings on a daily basis,” said Kumar.

The experts from the malaria institute have recommended indoor residual spray with synthetic pyrethroids as one of the measures for vector (mosquito) control.

The central team of experts that also has people from the emergency medical relief department, are conducting field visits in the affected areas. Three rapid response teams have been created — two for Patna and one for Bhagalpur — to respond to any emergency situation.

These teams will be posted in the state for a period of at least two weeks.

“A total of 37 medical camps have been set up at different locations, including nine camps in AIIMS Patna. The camps are also used to generate awareness about dos and don’ts among people. Availability of chlorine tablets, bleaching powder, oral rehydration solution, chloroscopes etc has been ensured,” said Kumar.

In 2018, Bihar reported 2,142 dengue cases; in 2017, 1,854 people tested positive; and in 2016, the figure stood at 1,912.

First Published: Oct 11, 2019 07:29 IST

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