Raiganj, Nov. 2: The North Dinajpur district administration has ordered mandatory blood tests for all migrant workers returning from Mumbai to stem the spread of malignant malaria.
The disease has killed four persons and affected 22 others in six gram panchayats in the district. Of the 22 patients, eight were diagnosed with the disease in the past 24 hours.
The malaria was first detected in Sithgram panchayat where four workers who had returned from Mumbai died in the last week of October. The disease subsequently spread to Rumia, Jagadoshpur, Bahin, Sherpur and Vatol gram panchayats.
District magistrate P.N. Bhutia has sent orders to all block development officers to screen the blood samples of every migrant labourer returning from the Maharashtra capital.
I have told all block development officers that those returning from other cities, especially Mumbai, should be screened for the malaria parasite as soon as they set foot in their villages, said Bhutia.
He also asked the zilla parishad sabhadhipati, Moktar Ali Sardar, to tell the panchayat pradhans to monitor the return of migrant labourers and get their blood samples collected at the nearest health centre.
Bhutia rued that the labour department was not monitoring the migrant workers.
Additional chief medical officer of health Ajoy Chakrabarty said the plasmodium falciparum parasite had been initially found in 14 more persons.
Of the eight fresh cases that we have detected in the past 24 hours, three have recently returned from Mumbai. We had feared from the beginning that the parasite might spread to other people and that is what is happening at the moment, Chakrabarty said.
We have also collected blood samples of 30 people suffering from high fever. We are certain that the fresh cases are because of the parasite spreading from the people who returned from Mumbai with the disease, he said.
However, Chakrabarty said it was impossible for medical teams to keep tabs on all workers returning from Mumbai. We have written to the district magistrate that we are trying to collect blood samples as quickly as possible with the help of two teams sent to the affected areas daily. They are also asking people to use mosquito nets without fail.
The sabhadhipati said he had already sent instructions to all gram panchayat pradhans to assist the health officers to arrest the spread of the disease. I have told them to help the health department keep in check the disease. The pradhans were asked to get the blood samples tested at the nearest health centre.