Encephalitis death toll rises to 102 in West Bengal, 43 in Assam

Health authorities say it’s a case of mixed infection with Japanese Encephalitis being responsible for around 24% of infection


The death toll from encephalitis in northern West Bengal was 60 till Sunday, while lower Assam districts have been worst affected. Photo: AFP
The death toll from encephalitis in northern West Bengal was 60 till Sunday, while lower Assam districts have been worst affected. Photo: AFP

Siliguri/Guwahati: Encephalitis playing havoc in northern West Bengal, where 102 people have died, has spread its tentacles to Assam as well taking 43 lives there.

In the last two days, 42 people have lost their lives in the seven north Bengal districts, particularly Jalpaiguri, the worst affected. “Around 102 people have died so far,” West Bengal director of medical education (DME) Dr Susanta Banerjee told PTI.

The toll from encephalitis in north Bengal was 60 till Sunday. DME said that it was a case of mixed infection with Japanese Encephalitis being responsible for around 24% of infection. The situation has been described as “alarming” by West Bengal health services director Biswaranjan Satpathy.

Dr Amarendranath Sarkar, the superintendent of the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, in Siliguri where the affected have been admitted said that most of them have been coming from near Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts and areas surrounding Siliguri. From 7 July till Monday, 60 people died of encephalitis in North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri. In Assam, Japanese encephalitis has claimed 43 lives and affected 311 people, according to health department data.

Lower Assam districts of Barpeta, Kamrup (rural), Darrang and Nalbari districts have been worst affected, the data revealed. Of this, Barpeta reported eight deaths and 54 positive cases while Kamrup (rural) reported four deaths and 34 cases of Japanese Encephalitis during the last week, according to health department data. Darrang, Sivasagar and Nalbari have reported six deaths each with 20 confirmed positive cases in Nalbari alone while two deaths were reported from the Kokrajhar district.

Kamrup (metro) district has recorded 31 positive cases but no deaths so far. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi had directed state chief secretary Jitesh Khosla to ensure that health department gears up for the vaccination drive and ensure regular flow of medicine to hospitals and health centres.

Meghalaya on Tuesday sounded an alert in four districts bordering Assam, health officials said. Even as there was no confirmed case till date, at least six suspected cases of encephalitis have been detected in Ri-Bhoi district, they said. The four Meghalaya districts covered by the alert are Ri-Bhoi, parts of West Khasi Hills, North Garo Hills and West Garo Hills.

“Health services officials in districts close to Assam have been asked to be cautious in case patients show any symptom similar to encephalitis,” state National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme officer Dr B. Mawlong told PTI. She said that six suspected cases were detected on Monday in Ri-Bhoi district and the government was waiting for test kits from a Pune-based laboratory.

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