Encephalitis under control in Bengal: Official

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Kolkata: Encephalitis is "under control" in West Bengal, an official said Thursday, dismissing reports about the disease surfacing in Kolkata.

The total number of people who died due to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in the state stood at 119 till July 31, according to the director of health services.

In the northern part of West Bengal as many as 79 have died in July this year.

"If we include people from Assam, Bihar and Sikkim residing here (state) then the figure stood at 123 so far. There have only been two new cases (suspected) since Wednesday. So we can say the situation is under control," B.R. Satpathi, director, health services told IANS.

The death of a two-year old boy allegedly diagnosed with the disease at M.R. Bangur Hospital here and later shifted to N.R.S. Medical College and Hospital, has sparked rumours about AES and its subset Japanese Encephalitis, that they are spreading out.

However, officials at the hospitals have denied the claims.

"There have been no case of encephalitis. The baby died of extreme convulsions July 25, which could not be controlled," Somnath Mukherjee, superintendent of M.R. Bangur hospital, told IANS.

Authorities at the N.R.S. Medical College and Hospital have iterated the same information about encephalitis.

Meanwhile, certain reports about a person in Kolkata being checked for Japanese Encephalitis at the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine - which civic officials had asserted would not affect the state capital - have added fuel to the fire.

"The patient is from Guwahati and was diagnosed with Japanese Encephalitis there. Tests were being done here (Kolkata) as some complications have arisen. We do not know whether the infection has been reactivated," an official of the institution told IANS.

About the issue, Satpathi said the "focus is currently on the situation in north Bengal".

Debasish Biswas, chief entomologist, Kolkata Municipal Corporation's health department, earlier said there was no risk for the outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis in the city, as the mosquito which cause the disease, is not found here.

"Moreover, since dengue is endemic in Kolkata, this confers immunity for Japanese Encephalitis. Both the viruses belong to the same family (Flaviviridae) and so the antibodies elicited due to dengue infection provide immunity for Japanese Encephalitis...This fact has been documented by experts worldwide," he said.

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