NORTH LAKHIMPUR, July 27 � One person died of Japanese encephalitis (JE) in Lakhimpur district even as a piggery in the heart of the town has been posing a serious threat of the outbreak of the deadly disease. The JE victim has been identified as Abdul Qasem (30) of No. 2 Ahmedpur of Bangalmora, who died at the Guwahati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) on Wednesday after being shifted from Islampur State Hospital in Bangalmora, following high fever and severe headache.
Meanwhile, a piggery in front of the district headquarters offices in North Lakhimpur has threatened the outbreak of deadly Japanese encephalitis in the town. The piggery is owned by one Narayan Konwar on a leased plot of land belonging to the family of the mouzadar of Laluk near the Deputy Commissioner�s office and in front of the District Judicial Complex in ward No. 6 of the town.
Japanese encephalitis is an arthropod-borne viral disease transmitted by infective bites of female mosquitoes, mainly belonging to the Culex group. Pigs are the main amplifying hosts of JE where birds from the Ardeidae family � herons, egrets, night-herons are the primary maintenance hosts of the disease.
Suppression of JE disease in humans is generally considered to be best achieved through vaccination of humans or swine, mosquito control, or a combination of these strategies. According to internationally renowned JE experts like JS Mackenzie, DT Williams and DW Smith of Australia, moving of domestic pigs away from human habitation is a potential method of reducing JE transmission to humans.
However, in this case, despite repeated appeals by the local people made before the authorities concerned to close the piggery, no measures have been taken so far. On all the occasions, the officials from municipality and departments like health let the piggery to remain as it is after conducting a cosmetic visit or inspection. Pigs from the piggery move out at the night and dig the earth as far as the pavement in front of the main gate of the DC�s office. There is also a stagnant pond near the piggery which is also compounding the problems, offering a breeding ground to mosquitoes, etc.
And with rains in this peak monsoon season, the entire North Lakhimpur area is becoming vulnerable to the outbreak of Japanese encephalitis. The Lakhimpur district falls in the JE map of the State where many people die annually of this deadly disease, caused by mosquitoes and the existence of the piggery in the heart of the town is posing extreme threat to the outbreak of this disease.
In neighbouring West Bengal, the municipality authorities have been moving the pigs away from the residential areas in Siliguri, following the outbreak of the deadly disease in that State. However, no such measures have been initiated by the Lakhimpur district health department and the North Lakhimpur Municipal Board to remove the piggery from the residential area of the town as an anti-JE drive despite repeated petitions and complaints by the local residents and media reports.
If the piggery is allowed to run in its present location, it may lead to the outbreak of the deadly Japanese encephalitis in this district headquarters town very soon. Already 66 people are reported to have been affected by JE in Lakhimpur district and they are being admitted at North Lakhimpur Civil Hospital. Many of the patients have also been shifted to the GMCH for further treatment.