Assam health officials fear that the cause for outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in areas covered by vaccination drives, could be attributed to the new vaccine-resistant strain of JE virus, which may have gained virulence.
Sivasagar district, the first district in the state where the adult vaccination campaign was launched in 2012, has reported the highest number of JE positive cases this year.
Sivasagar district joint director of health services Ripun Borpujari said, "This could be a new JE strain and the virus may have developed resistance to the vaccine. We have intensified awareness and fogging programs in an effort to combat the JE scourge."
Borpujari added, "We are planning a door-to-door survey to study the fever cases. The positive JE cases are fewer compared to last year. It could be that this is the new JE strain that we are encountering and it is possible that the virus has gained more virulence," said Borpujari.
More than 200 JE positive cases are being treated at different hospitals across Assam, India. 38 persons have died, with the highest number deaths reported from Sivasagar district.
In 2014, Sivasagar district had reported 128 positive cases and with the peak season for JE set to continue for two more months, Sivasagar district remains vulnerable. This year so far, 24 confirmed cases have been reported from the district. Fourteen Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) cases have also been reported.
Paddy fields and a good number of pigs population in the oil-rich Sivasagar district could further cause positive and confirmed JE cases across the district.