Kerala Health Minister P.K. Sreemathi Wednesday said the government was not averse to inviting the World Health Organisation (WHO) to study the outbreak of a mosquito borne fever in the state that has claimed 173 lives this year.
"Even though four different expert teams have arrived in the state since the outbreak of the fever, collected blood samples and given us reports, which have confirmed the fever as chikunguniya and nothing else, we have no problems in another study by WHO," Sreemathi informed the Kerala assembly.
She was replying to a calling attention motion moved by opposition legislator N. Jayraj, who demanded that a comprehensive study on the disease, which has affected thousands, be undertaken because there were conflicting reports about the illness.
So far 173 people have died in the outbreak. Opposition leader Oommen Chandy claims 562 people have died. Last year, a similar outbreak claimed more than 150 lives.
Sreemathi added that the director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research who was in the state earlier this week had confirmed that the outbreak was of chikunguniya.
"Please don't have any suspicion on the findings of the experts. The reason why this time the outbreak has been more deadly is on account of the prevalence of the virus in more numbers than was seen in other parts of South Asia where the attack was mild," she said.
Sreemathi added that a team of experts while visiting the Kottayam Medical College spotted a strong source of mosquito breeding just outside the hospital wards.
"The need of the hour is that irrespective of our political affiliations we should join hands to fight mosquitoes. And if we don't do that in a systematic way, the next outbreak would be even worse," the minister warned.