Guwahati: With the death of a 15-year-old girl in Assam's Barpeta district and a septuagenarian in Darrang, the toll from Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) reached 12 on Sunday. Another 35 positive cases of JE have been detected so far.
The teenager from Pathsala in Barpeta died of JE at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) while the 72-year-old man from Mangaldoi breathed his last at the GNRC hospital in Guwahati after undergoing treatment for nine days. A four-month-old baby from Sarupathar in Golaghat district was also diagnosed with the disease and is undergoing treatment at the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital.
Within a fortnight, six persons had died of JE in Jorhat district. According to officials, a total of 48 AES and 17 JE-positive cases have been registered in Jorhat Medical College & Hospital, with six deaths reported in the paediatric department.
According to the hospital authorities, 43 patients with AES and 13 suffering from JE were admitted at the paediatric ward.
Other cases have been reported from Dibrugarh, Baihata Chariali in Kamrup Rural, and Doboka in Nagaon district. In Guwahati, a person who was undergoing treatment for JE for the last eight days at Nemcare Hospital died on June 28.
On June 30 last year, 21 JE deaths were reported in Assam, while the toll had touched 119 in 2017, 160 in 2015, and 165 in 2014.
Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan dispatched a central team on Sunday to review the situation and also directed the ministry to extend all support and assistance to the state government.
The team, headed by Sanjeeva Kumar, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and comprising senior officers from the Delhi-based National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme, is expected to reach Guwahati on Sunday evening.
“I am closely monitoring the situation. The health ministry is coordinating with the Assam government for prevention and management of JE to ensure that the number of cases don’t rise in the state,” Vardhan said in a statement.
He added the Union ministry is providing all logistical and technical support to the state government in terms of surveillance and diagnostic kits to strengthen their effort in dealing with the menace.
Noting that community participation and empowerment are the most crucial steps towards prevention, Vardhan urged all stakeholders to start rigorous awareness campaigns.
“We do not wish to create a panic among people. The Central ministry team would be here and they would monitor the situation. We are following the directives set by the Union government in this regard,” said a state health department official.