Three persons have tested positive for Japanese encephalitis — a disease caused by the mosquito-borne JE virus and acutely marked by muscle atrophy or convulsions — at different Jamshedpur hospitals in the past 24 hours, prompting the East Singhbhum administration to rigorously sound the health alarm.
The office of the civil surgeon has spread the word of caution to all the 30 government and private heal hubs, asking them to monitor patients with symptoms like fever, headache and neck rigidity and file reports 24x7, following directives from the district unit of Integrated Disease Surveillance Project.
The IDSP was launched in India with World Bank assistance in November 2004 to detect and respond to disease outbreaks quickly.
Speaking to The Telegraph, IDSP nodal officer in East Singhbhum A.K. Lal said the three cases had been reported from Tata Main Hospital (TMH) in Bistupur, MGM Medical College and Hospital in Sakchi and Mercy Hospital in Baridih. “The confirmations came last (Wednesday) evening from the vector lab at MGM Medical College in Dimna,” he added.
Two of the three Japanese encephalitis victims, aged between four and 11 (mortality of this disease varies but is generally much higher in children), are receiving medical attention in hospitals while the third has been released after treatment.
Anuj Solanki (4), a resident of Khutadih in Sonari is admitted to TMH, and Fakir Mundi (7) — a native of Purulia in Bengal who was visiting his relative at Birsanagar — is under treatment at Mercy Hospital. Resident of Jemco, near Telco, Aditya Kumar (11) was released from MGM hospital on Thursday.
According to Nirmal Kumar, the head medicine at MGM, the disease is caused by a virus from the family Flaviviridae, which means they primarily spread through arthropod vectors like ticks and mosquitoes. In this case, the culprit is the Culex mosquito.
“Most infections are mild with symptoms like fever and headache, sometimes even without these apparent signs, but approximately one in every 200 cases is characterised by rapid onset of high fever, stiffness of neck, disorientation, coma, seizures, spastic paralysis and even death. In areas where the JE virus is common, encephalitis occurs mainly in young children because adults have already been infected and are immune,” Dr Kumar said.
Viral cases have taken a toll on the district since 2010. That year, 10,000 cases, mostly of dengue and chikungunya, had been reported. Four people had died of dengue. In 2011, there were 15,000 cases, with one dengue death while in 2012, of the 7,000 viral victims, eight died of cerebral malaria. However, there were no deaths in 2013 although over 600 cases were detected.
Civil surgeon Vibha Sharan has asked hospitals and health centres to report patients with Japanese encephalitis symptoms along with others with telltale signs of dengue and chikungunya too. Daily flow of such information will help the district health department arrange serum and blood sample tests without delay.
Apart from co-ordinating with the district filaria and malaria wings for spraying of larvicides, the IDSP is also in touch with the urban local bodies MNAC, JNAC and Jugsalai Municipality as well as civic utilities firm Jusco to ensure fogging and immediate detection of positive cases. Door-to-door campaigns to identify vulnerable pockets are on the cards.
“The Culex thrives in stagnant water and people must not allow the same at home or outside. Puddles and clogged drains must be reported for quick action. Fogging has already been carried out by JNAC in Jemco while Jusco will do the same in Sonari today (Thursday),” said Sharan.
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