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Centre sends expert to help fight JE cases in Meghalaya

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma holding a meeting to review the steps taken to control JE cases in West Garo Hills district, at Tura on Thursday. – UB Photos
 SHILLONG, June 20 - The Union Health Ministry has rushed an expert to West Garo Hills district to assist the administration in fighting the outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) there, officials said today.

 At least 16 persons were affected by JE in West Garo Hills district, prompting State Health Minister AL Hek to review the situation here on Wednesday evening, they added.

The expert hails from the Japanese Encephalitis Division of the ministry.

Health Minister AL Hek said that the State nodal officer of the National Vector-borne Disease Control Programme has been asked to report to the district administration and provide assistance. Another expert from the Health Ministry is also arriving.

The first two cases of JE were reported almost a week ago in the district. Till Wednesday, 16 cases tested positive, eight of which are from Tura town, a senior district official said.

As of now, additional fogging machines are being despatched and all measures have been initiated.

A public appeal is being made to bring suspected cases to nearest health facilities for testing and treatment, a State bulletin said.

Health Secretary Pravin Bakshi is closely monitoring the situation and ensuring availability of drugs and medicines, besides reviewing the treatment facilities.

The Director of Health Services (MI) has been directed to provide all possible medical care, and precautionary measures have also been initiated, he added. – PTI

Tura Correspondent adds: Following the outbreak of JE in West Garo Hills, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Thursday held an emergency meeting at the DRDA Hall in Tura to review the situation and the steps undertaken to control the spread of the disease in the district. The Health Secretary, senior Health officials, JE specialists and officials of the district administration, Tura Municipal Board and the Veterinary Department were present in the meeting.

The meeting was also attended by members of local development committees, senior citizens, Nokma Council representatives and others.

The Chief Minister reviewed the precautionary measures undertaken by the departments concerned in order to prevent the spread of the disease. A powerpoint presentation showed 17 JE cases in 2016, five cases and one death in 2017, 29 cases and four deaths in 2018, and 17 cases and one death till June this year.

Sangma directed the Health officials to conduct awareness programmes and intensify fogging in the vulnerable localities. The Chief Minister said that vector-borne diseases are likely to increase in future and therefore, awareness is critical.

Meanwhile, West Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner Ram Singh urged the citizens not to panic over the outbreak of the disease. He directed the Health officials and line departments to conduct massive awareness programmes and also check all localities.

JE is a deadly disease caused by a virus which is normally present in birds, which is then transmitted through an amplifying host (pig or cattle) to human by the bite of the Culex mosquito.

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