Two positive cases already reported in Bellary
Dearth of vaccines, coupled with the failure of the authorities to implement and monitor the vaccination programme may lead to outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis (JE), popularly known as brain fever, in the district, if the two cases already reported here is any indication.
The incidence of JE in the district, which was high between 1983 and 2006, had been brought down drastically after the launch of anti-JE vaccination programme.
The viral disease is caused by Culex vishnui mosquito. The presence of a large number of pigs, cattle and fowls, which are said to be the carriers of the vectors, and large-scale irrigation, had rendered the district vulnerable. Children up to the age of 15 years are prone to the disease. The mortality rate is about 33 per cent and an equal number of the affected children had been rendered disabled. The Government had launched the vaccination programme in 2006 and covered about 7.2 lakh children. Later, the vaccination was continued like other regular immunisation programmes. It helped the authorities concerned bring down the number of cases drastically.
This year, however, of the 23 suspected cases admitted at the Vijayanagar Institute of Medical Sciences hospital, the tests of two children, have proved positive.
Official sources told The Hindu that owing to shortage of vaccine, the programme could not be implemented properly. The transmission of the disease is stated to be severe between August and December. Official statistics show that the regular immunisation programmes such as Pulse Polio and others had achieved about 50 per cent success in terms of coverage as at the end of September (half yearly), and less than 30 per cent in the case of JE vaccination. “If JE cases are being reported from urban areas, that too the district headquarters, its incidence inrural areas may be more severe because most such cases go unreported. If neglected, it will lead to another outbreak of the disease,” an official said.The delay in reopening Goshen hospital has been hampering the programme.