The growing number of cases of Hepatitis-B infection at Pramadom, Mallasserry, Thengumkavu and surrounding villages, near here, is causing concern for the district administration and the Health Department.
L. Anithakumari, Deputy District Medical Officer for Communicable Disease Control, told The Hindu here on Monday that nine cases had been confirmed through ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) test in the past three months. Thirty more cases tested positive in the antigen card test.
However, unofficial reports say the number is much higher. When the official data show that only two died of the infection in the past four months, the unofficial figure puts it at five at least.
Dr. Anithakumari said Hepatitis-B infection had been a major health problem at Pramadom and surrounding villages from 2003. The graph rose in 2011, with 14 patients testing positive in the ELISA test and 50 others in the card test.
She said an expert team from the Government Medical College, Alappuzha, would visit the affected areas on Wednesday to study the cause of infection.
She said a policy should be evolved to extend psychological support to the affected people and others. The Health Department had launched public awareness programmes and disease prevention measures.
The doctor said the infection resolved itself in most people. But five to 10 per cent of the people developed chronic infection.
Kurien Oommen, former District TB Officer, says about two-thirds of the people with chronic Hepatitis-B infection are carriers of the virus who do not develop symptoms, but can transmit it to others. Children are at a much higher risk for chronic infection.
The Health Department organised a public awareness camp at the indoor stadium at Pramadom on Monday. Leela Rajan, block panchayat president, inaugurated the camp. H. Salimraj, Additional District Magistrate, delivered the keynote address.
P.N. Vidyadharan, District Programme Manager, National Rural Health Mission, who were among the doctors who took classes at the camp, said Rs. 1.19 lakh had been allocated for the ward-level healthcare committees in the Pramadom panchayat for disease-prevention activities.
Robin Peter, district panchayat member, and T.M. Salim, Pramadom panchayat president, spoke.