#MalkangiriExists: Japanese Encephalitis has claimed more than 100 lives in Odisha’s Malkangiri district

By NL Team

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Japanese Encephalitis (JE) continues to affect lives in Odisha’s tribal-dominated Malkangiri district. Since the outbreak of the disease in September, the number of deaths due to JE has touched 103, according to the official count. However, a local journalist told Newslaundry the death toll could be well above 120.

JE originates from pigs and spreads to humans through mosquitoes. In the absence of any cure, the treatment comprises of tackling “symptoms like fever, pain, lethargy, severe exhaustion and loss of appetite,” according to Malkangiri Chief District Medical Officer, Uday Shankar Mishra. The disease is particularly lethal for children. “For kids below eight-years, it is very difficult to battle the virus due to their feeble immunity level,” Mishra explained.

Malkangiri has a history of JE outbreaks. In 2014, ten children had allegedly died in the district due to JE, and in 2012, 24 people had reportedly lost their lives to the disease. Cases of JE were also reported in 2013.

Speaking to Newslaundry, Dr AC Dhariwal, Director, National Vector Borne Disease Control Program (NVBDCP) a central body tasked with assisting the state government, said it’s difficult to control outbreaks in Malkangiri as it is a “remote district, predominantly inhabited by tribals” who suffer from “malnourishment” and other “system related issues”. He, however, stated that vaccination against JE has begun in Malkangiri and neighbouring districts, and that he expects no further transmission of the disease.