Bengal seeks central help for encephalitis vaccination

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Siliguri: Rattled by the encephalitis outbreak in the northern part of the state, the West Bengal government Saturday said it would seek the central government's help for vaccination of adults to prevent the disease from spreading.

Speaking to media persons after a meeting at the state government's branch secretariat "Utar Kanya" in neighbouring Jalpaiguri district, Minister of State for Health Chandrima Bhattacharya said: "We will talk to the centre on vaccination of adults including old people to prevent the disease."

She also appealed to the central government to ensure a steady supply of blood test kits for detecting the disease.

The meeting also decided to appoint one entomologist each in all the districts.

"We will recruit virology experts for North Bengal and set up virology laboratories in Malda and Cooch Behar districts," said Bhattacharya.

However, the state government gave inconsistent figures on the toll.

Bhattacharya said the malady had taken a toll of 71 lives in July, and "was now coming under control".

However, an official in a North Bengal health facility said 83 people have succumbed to encephalitis between July 1 and July 25.

On the other hand, the state's director of health services Biswaranjan Satpathi, who had a day earlier put the number of deaths at 113 since January, downscaled the figure to 109.

"Actually, some of the deaths had been counted twice," he said.

However, Darjeeling BJP MP S.S. Ahluwalia, who visited the hospital Saturday, said as per his information. 204 people have perished because of encephalitis this monsoon.

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