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Meningitis, meningococcal - india (04): (north eastern)

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  • Meningitis, meningococcal - india (04): (north eastern)

    Date: Mon 16 Feb 2009
    Source: Sify News [edited]

    At least 230 people have died of meningitis in the north eastern
    states of Tripura, Meghalaya, and Mizoram, officials said on Monday
    [16 Feb 2009].
    The situation is alarming in Meghalaya and Tripura,
    they said. "We have asked the National Institute of Communicable
    Diseases (NICD) in New Delhi to send necessary vaccine and drugs to
    control the disease that has assumed an epidemic proportion in the
    Longtharai Valley tribal areas of Dhalai district
    ," said Tripura
    health service director Satya Ranjan Debbarma.

    The NICD last week asked the 3 north eastern states to keep a close
    surveillance in remote locations, especially where the outbreak of
    meningococcal meningitis was reported. "Over 230 people including
    children and women died in the disease in Meghalaya (165 deaths),
    Tripura (55 deaths), and Mizoram (10 deaths) over the past one
    a senior health official told reporters [in Agartala,
    Tripura]. Over 2500 people, including children and women, were taken
    ill in the 3 states

    "The 3 north eastern states have borders with the Chittagong Hill
    Tracts (CHT) of south east Bangladesh where meningococcal meningitis
    is spreading in an epidemic form,"
    said an official of the NICD.

    The Tripura government has taken a slew of measures to control the
    disease by setting up makeshift health centres in the affected
    Longtharai Valley, 135 km [84 mi] north of the capital Agartala.
    "Several medical teams [are] working in the affected areas
    round-the-clock and preventive medicines were being given to 140 000
    people in the tribal dominated areas," said RK Dhar, director of the
    family welfare and preventive medicine.

    A 2-member team of NICD led by joint director Jagdir Singh visited
    the affected East Khasi Hills and Garo Hills areas of Meghalaya and
    helped doctors in the region deal with the disease. "We have enough
    anti-meningococcal meningitis vaccines and a number of medical teams
    are working round-the-clock to deal with the situation," said
    Meghalaya health service director A Kynjing. "Like the other north
    eastern states, we have launched a massive public awareness campaign
    on the need for cleanliness as it is an airborne disease," said YP
    Singh, principal secretary of the Tripura government in-charge of
    health department.

    After visiting the affected areas, RK Dhar, an expert on communicable
    diseases, said: "Meningococcal meningitis is a communicable disease
    that is spread through droplets of respiratory or throat secretions.
    The most common symptoms are stiff neck, high fever, headache, and
    vomiting. Even when the disease is diagnosed early and adequate
    therapy instituted, 5 to 10 percent of the patients die typically
    within 24 to 48 hours of onset of symptoms,"
    he said. Tripura Health
    Minister Tapan Chakraborty, who is also camping in the affected
    tribal areas for the past few days, held meetings with the village
    heads of 40 affected villages and asked them to help health officials
    and paramedics.

    Communicated by:

    [An outbreak of a rapidly fatal illness in remote, impoverished
    tribal areas of the Indian state of Tripura was characterized as
    mysterious in a news release reported in the previous ProMED-mail
    post Meningitis, meningococcal - India (03): (NE), RFI 20090216.0657.
    From the news report above, it is apparent that this outbreak is now
    thought to be part of the ongoing epidemic of meningococcal disease
    in north eastern Indian states of Tripura, Mizoram, and Meghalaya
    that has spread to neighboring Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh.
    ProMED-mail has heard unofficially that the cause of the meningitis
    epidemic in the north eastern Indian states of Tripura, Mizoram, and
    Meghalaya, as well as Delhi, is said to be serogroup A _Neisseria

    A HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map of India that shows the
    states of Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram can be found at
    A map of Bangladesh showing the location of the Chittagong Hill
    Tracts that borders the Indian state of Mizoram can be found at
    - Mod.ML],76162