Encephalitis Toll in North Bengal Rises to 109

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Encephalitis Toll in North Bengal Rises to 109
Kolkata:  The toll due to encephalitis in north Bengal rose to 109 today after two fresh deaths were reported from Darjeeling district since Friday, a government official said today.

"Both the deaths have been reported from Darjeeling district. One was due to Japanese Encephalitis(JE) while the other one is a non-JE death," West Bengal Health Services director Biswaranjan Satpathy, who is camping in north Bengal, told PTI today.

No new cases have been reported since yesterday from the area, he said.

Yesterday, the name of one person who died due to encephalitis appeared in two lists following which the toll was revised to 107 and with two fresh deaths the figure stood at 109 today, he said.

Municipalities and other local bodies in the seven affected districts of north Bengal have taken up a huge cleanliness drive and have undertaken fogging activities regularly to control the disease, he added.

In Jalpaiguri West Bengal Minister of State for Health, Chandrima Bhattacharya today said no 'emergency report' on the situation in north Bengal due to encephalitis had reached the head office of the health and family welfare department though regular reports had come.

Bhattacharya's statement came a day after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee suspended three health department officials for not providing information on the situation at the right time.

"I came to know about the situation after a woman journalist informed me here on July 15 when I was here," Bhattacharya told reporters after a review meeting on the situation.

"The state government started working on a war footing after getting the report. The situation has been controlled before it reached epidemic form," she said.

The minister said 71 people died due to the disease in North Bengal Medical College (NBMC) from the beginning of the month till yesterday. Of them 21 fell victim to Japanese encephalitis and the rest to acute encephalitis syndrome.

Bhattacharya said the laboratory at NBMC, which was inaugurated by Banerjee in 2011, was the only one in north Bengal that can test blood samples affected with encephalitis.

The laboratory is currently functioning round-the-clock, she said adding two more would be opened in Malda and Cooch Behar districts.

The West Bengal government, the minister said, would contact its Assam counterpart for information about an adult vaccination pilot project initiated in that state to tackle the encephalitis menace.

The Centre would also be urged to regularise the supply of test kit of encephalitis, she added.

BJP MP from Darjeeling S S Ahluwalia who visited NBMC to take stock of the situation asked why the chief minister did not visit the hospital when she was in Darjeeling as the minister of state for health knew about the situation.

The chief minister who holds health portfolio was in Darjeeling the next day. When her deputy knew about it, why didn't she visit the hospital?" he said.

The MP claimed he came to know from NBMC that encephalitis claimed 203 lives in the first six months of the year and 83 died due to the disease in July alone.


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