This Article is From Jul 21, 2019

Encephalitis Outbreak Worsens Assam's Flood Ordeal

Since 2013, floods and Japanese Encephalitis outbreaks have gone hand in hand, killing over 1,000 people.

62 people have died in Assam floods so far.


With waters receding, the flood crisis in Assam is showing signs of improvement. But 38-year-old Dalimi Kalita wades through her waterlogged courtyard in Chandrapur, about 30 km away from Guwahati, with a worried look.

Dalimi is concerned about the stinking, stagnant flood water - a possible breeding ground for diseases like the dreaded Japanese Encephalitis.

Her 6-year-old daughter is already running a fever.

"The government needs to give some medicines to pre-empt an outbreak. My child already has cold, fever and I am really worried," Dalimi told NDTV.

The floods have been a double blow for Assam. Death and destruction caused by the now receding waters have been compounded by the loss of lives due to the outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis since April.

At least 62 people have died of the floods in Assam but the Japanese Encephalitis outbreak has claimed more than 100 lives since April and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome or AES has killed about 200.

Since 2013, floods and Japanese Encephalitis outbreaks have gone hand in hand, killing over 1,000 people.

"Many people are in relief camps and they become vulnerable to communicable diseases and when the flood water recedes there is a threat of another outbreak of vector borne disease like dengue," Dr BC Bhagobati, state surveillance officer, Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme of Assam said.

In areas that are still cut off like Laharighat in Morigaon district, health workers are finding it difficult to reach flood victims.

The government has cancelled the leaves of all doctors, paramedics and other health staff till September largely to tackle the Japanese Encephalitis outbreak but villagers say there is a lot more that needs to be done.

"Ever since the flood, my son has been very unwell. He has constant fever. Now, water is drying, this is the time when mosquitoes become active. The government has to act now, provide us things like bleaching powder," said Anuj Kalita, a flood victim in Chandrapur.