.........BHUBANESWAR: THE State Government has denied Japanese Encephalitis (JE) as the reason behind the death of a nine-year-old girl from Khurda. The child died while undergoing treatment at a private hospital in the Capital last month, prompting the Health and Family Welfare Minister Pratap Jena to order a probe.
A five-member team of specialists was constituted to investigate into the alleged JE death of the child from Bhusandhapur area.
Special Secretary in the Health and Family Welfare Department Dr KC Dash said though initially it was suspected to be a case of JE as per Elisa test, the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, which is considered more authentic, found it JE negative.
“The PCR test of two other children, who were suspected to have been affected in the first week of last month, was also negative. They have been discharged after treatment. The Khurda child died because she was brought to hospital very late,” he claimed.
Since there are several types of encephalitis, which lead to acute inflammation of the brain, Dr Dash explained that the child might have died of any other encephalitis, but it was not certainly JE. Encephalitis most often affects children and those with compromised immune systems. The majority of cases are caused by viral infection, he said.
What had put the Health Department in a fix was that the children affected by the vector-borne disease were administered JE vaccine during mass vaccination campaign last month. “We can not say that the vaccine did not work. Because, no Japanese Encephalitisvirus was found in their blood samples. There is wild virus in the environment and that might have infected the children. However, the three cases are sporadic incidents and not a cluster of cases like in Malkangiri in 2016,” Dr Dash clarified.
While 242 children were affected by Japanese Encephalitis and 42 had died of the deadly disease in 2016, no casualty was reported last year though 65 children were affected.