Assam: Residents of 250 villages in 3 districts at high risk of JE disease


GUWAHATI, June 1, 2018: Residents of nearly 250 villages in three Upper Assam districts are at high risk of contracting Japanese encephalitis, according to an early warning system developed by scientists of Regional Medical Research Centre in Dibrugarh.

During a meeting between the research centre and health department officials last month, scientists pointed out that Dibrugarh, Sivasagar and Tinsukia districts, which are endemic areas, could report higher JE cases if the department does not pool resources and take preventive measures at the earliest.

"The responses from health department and National Health Mission officials was positive and they were receptive to the early warning system. It seems the system could be officially implemented soon," a source said.

The source said even if there is a 75 to 80 per cent accuracy in the prediction, residents of 175 out of 250 villages could be taken care of and lives saved.

The onset of JE is correlated with the coming of monsoon, which was likely to reach the Northeast on Thursday, according to the Met department.

According to the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, Assam reported 604 JE cases and 87 deaths in 2017.

The Japanese encephalitis early warning system was developed by the RMRC in collaboration with the North Eastern Space Applications Centre. It predicts the onset of the disease and the probable size of the epidemic or outbreak in affected villages. The warning system incorporates remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS), previous year's JE data along with meteorological data in predicting cases and outbreak.

In 2014, the system was handed over to the state government to implement it in Dibrugarh, Sivasagar and Tinsukia districts. Training was also given to officials on using the model on computers. But it had been lying dormant for the past few years, according to sources.

Source: The Telegraph

Image Courtesy: Odisha Sun Times