Assam in the grip of brain fever

Published: Wednesday 30 September 2009

FORTY-FOUR people died of Japanese encephalitis, a viral infection, at the Assam Medical College Hospital in Dibrugarh on July 28. The same day another 68 patients suffering from the viral disease were admitted to the hospital that receives patients from across the state. T R Borborah, principal of the medical college, confirmed the deaths.

Health officials in Assam said the disease has taken epidemic form in Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Jorhat, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts and has infected nearly 1,000 people. The state health department has put the death toll at 75, but unofficial reports say 100 people have died of Japanese encephalitis in upper Assam. "The situation is bad, with no specific drugs available for treating the disease," director of the state, health department, Dhruba Hojai, said. "We have alerted health officials across the state to take preventive measures to stop Japanese encephalitis from spreading."

The disease is transmitted from pigs through mosquitoes and strikes between April and September. It causes inflammation of the brain tissue, resulting in high fever, headache and stiff neck. On August 25, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma said the government will import encephalitis vaccine from China.

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