Japanese Encephalitis vaccination suffers as state engaged in Covid fight
Jamshedpur, June 21: Jharkhand health department battling Covid pandemic seems to have faltered in it’s target of safeguard children against vector borne diseases like Japanese Encephalitis.
With monsoon at its peak, the state health department has awaken from its slumber and directed civil surgeons of 16 districts which witnesses large number of Japanese Encephalitis cases to ensure that all the targeted beneficiaries children are covered for vaccination against Japanese Encephalitis which creates large number of fatalities amongst children in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh and Bihar during monsoon every year.
The letter by the state vaccination officer, to the civil surgeons paints a grim picture. The coverage of the first vaccination dose of Japanese Encephalitis is only 48 per cent while the coverage of second dose is only 39 per cent.
The first dose of the vaccine is given in the month of April while the second dose is given in May.
“Usually the vaccination is done before monsoon so that children develop antibodies during monsoon against the disease. The health department had issued letter in May too but not effect has taken place in the vaccination program for Japanese Encephalitis which has led to another letter issued to the civil surgeons of the 16 districts which witness significant prevalence of the disease to complete the vaccination of the targeted children at the earliest,” said state health department nodal officer IEC, Siddharth Tripathy.
According to state health department surveillance data in 2019 the state witnessed an annual figure of nearly 130 children affected in the vector borne viral diseases which is caused by Culex mosquito and affects those especially in paddy fields and farms in the water accumulated during rainy season. The culex mosquito gets active in the evening and does not enters houses but is not active during daytime.
Sources in the health department said that since 70 per cent populace of the state resides in village and if this vector borne diseases reaches alarming menace it would further aggravate health situation in the state battling Covid pandemic.
The 16 districts affected in Japanese Encephalitis are Bokaro, Chatra, Deoghar, Dhanbad, Dumka, East Singhbhum (Jamshedpur), Garhwa, Giridih, Godda, Gumla, Hazaribagh, Jamtara, Khunti, Kodarma, Latehar and Lohardaga.
The Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus – a mutated variant of concern which severely affect the human body – was found to be the most prevalent mutant strain in five most-affected districts of Jharkhand during random sampling done from April 1 to June 9, health officials said.
The state health department sent 364 samples of Covid-19 patients from Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Dhanbad, Hazaribagh and Palamau for Whole Genome Sequencing to the Institute of Life Sciences (ILS) in Bhubaneswar and the results showed that at least 204 of the samples were infected by the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which is said to be the reason behind the unprecedented spike in Covid cases during the second wave in India and many other countries.
The genome sequencing results showed that as many as 63 samples were infected by the Kappa variant of the virus, while 29 were infected by the Alpha variant, which was first reported in the United Kingdom. The Delta variant, which is said to be 40 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha variant, was first detected in India in late 2020.
Of the 364 samples sent for genome sequencing, at least 328 were found to be variants of concern.
Of the 204 Delta variants detected in the state, 86 were from Jamshedpur, 26 from Ranchi, 32 from Dhanbad, 39 from Hazaribagh and 21 from Palamau. Of the 63 Kappa variants, 43 were from Jamshedpur, eight from Ranchi, four from Dhanbad, five from Hazaribagh and three from Palamau. As many as 29 samples were found infected by the Alpha variant and 18 of them were from Ranchi, seven from Hazaribagh and two from Palamau.
While the Delta variant of the coronavirus was found to be most prevalent among the five districts, the new Delta plus variant, reported in Maharashtra, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were not detected in Jharkhand during the recent genome sequencing, health officials said.