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Alert in tea gardens on viral outbreak

Japanese encephalitis patients at the AMCH in Dibrugarh. File picture

Jorhat, July 24: The Assam labour department has asked tea gardens to be alert on preventing outbreak of Japanese encephalitis and acute encephalitis syndrome.

The directive comes in the wake of Japanese encephalitis and acute encephalitis syndrome claiming 59 and 167 lives respectively in the state so far this year with most of the cases being reported over the past two months.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi had reviewed the health scenario yesterday in view of the spread of the diseases and increase in death toll, especially in lower Assam.

He directed health officials to conduct awareness campaigns by involving panchayats, to intensify measures to control the diseases from spreading to newer areas and to carry out intensive fogging in the affected areas and localities situated close to them.

The labour department in its directive to five tea plantation associations (gardens across the state are members of any one of these organisations) urged them to inform their member-gardens to take effective steps to prevent outbreak of the diseases.

It advised garden managements to organise awareness meetings, provide potable water and maintain proper sanitation. It asked the gardens to test samples of drinking water supplied to workers for bacteriological and chemical analysis at government approved laboratories at the earliest and continue the practice at periodical intervals, preferably monthly.

It said water should be purified by chlorination or other methods approved by the public health engineering (PHE) department. Technical guidance in this regard should be taken from the department at the district level.

The directive also advised cleaning of waterbodies, open ditches and water storage containers to prevent breeding of mosquitoes, spraying of insecticides across the tea estates, not to rear pigs near workers’ quarters, use of medicated mosquito nets (provided by the health department) and asked the garden staff to wear full body-covering clothes.

The gardens have been asked to immediately inform the department through the nearest primary health centre if any person suffers from fever and shows symptoms similar to the disease.

Seven children have died of Japanese encephalitis and 25 have tested positive for the disease in the paediatrics department of Assam Medical College and Hospital, Dibrugarh, so far this year. The department has reported 66 AES cases since January till date.

AMCH sources said the patients were from Dibrugarh and its adjoining districts. They said the department has only two nurses and the beds are inadequate to accommodate the increasing number of patients, as a result of which many children are undergoing treatment on the floor.

The G.B. Hospital in Tripura has found the germs of Japanese encephalitis in the blood samples of three tribal patients.

Hospital superintendent R.K. Vadya said the blood samples were collected by doctors treating malaria in the interior areas of Gandacherra and Longtarai valley subdivisions.

He said two of the patients were brought to the hospital from Longtarai valley subdivision yesterday afternoon and quarantined, while the arrival of the third patient, a six-year-old boy from Gandacherra, was awaited.

The health department is taking steps to prevent escalation of the disease, he added.

Apart from this, the malaria death toll in the state has risen to 131, according to official statistics.


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