The government will adopt a three-pronged strategy, including an “election type” house-to-house campaign, to contain Japanese Encephalitis (JE) infection that claimed 560 lives in Uttar Pradesh this year, Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi said in Lok Sabha on Monday.

“We are forming a special research group under the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) to study the virus. We don’t know whether they are JE or some vector borne disease with symptoms of JE,” Trivedi said.

“We have to do the research. I am certain that our scientists are capable of finding out the truth,” said Trivedi, adding that the outcome of this research will help in focused medical intervention in the region.

The government plans open a rehabilitation department in Gorakhpur and would also rope in MPs to boost their campaign, the minister said.

According to the union health ministry, 23 districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh are endemic to the JE virus.

Domestic pigs and wild birds are reservoirs of the JE virus. The virus is transmitted by infective bites of female mosquitoes, mainly belonging to culex tritaeniorhynchus, culex vishnui and culex pseudovishnui group. The disease gets its name as the virus was first detected in Japan.

Trivedi said his ministry was worried about the physical and mental disability children suffer due to this infection. Many of the victims of JE have been children.

“Kids become physically and mentally challenged due to this encephalitis. To deal with such children, a department of physical medical rehabilitation will be set up in B.R.D. Medical College in Gorakhpur,” he said. “We are duty bound (to tackle the problem).” he added.

Talking about the social aspect of the disease, the minister said poverty, illiteracy and poor awareness are major hindrances to a better health.

“Poverty and illiteracy is an odd couple. Social problems need a social solution. We will launch an election type special campaign for better hygiene and sanitation for (tackling) Japanese Encephalitis. I seek the support of parliamentarians for this,” he said.

“I myself will go to the region for this purpose. We (health ministry) are absolutely committed to fight the problem. We also will need the support of NGOs, government departments to create awareness,” Mr. Trivedi added.