Out of 29 registered cases of Chandipura virus in three districts in the state, 17 people have died so far. 18 cases have been reported from Kheda, 9 from Panchmahals and 2 in Vadodara district, out of which 6 in Kheda, 9 in Panchmahals and 2 Vadodara have died.
However, the state health minister has given an assurance that there is no need to panic as the disease is being monitored closely and rapid response teams are setting off to control the ailment.
State health minister Jaynarayan Vyas said: "We have sent blood samples to the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune and the virus was identified as 'Chandipura Virus. Mainly children and aged people are prone to it. The disease spread because of bite of the sandfly, which is found in houses built with mud and sand.
Cracks in the wall or other parts of the house built of mud or sand, is a 'shelter' for the sandfly. This insect bites and transmits the virus to humans. It is advisable to plaster the cracks in mud walls to prevent the spread of the disease."
He added: "The disease is fatal and the victims suffer from high fever and other symptoms."
The deadliness of the virus can be gauged by the trend of deaths so far. Nearly 58% of victims bitten have died and the state health department claims that 29 cases are 'suspicious Chandipura virus ones. Out of that, only 9 have been confirmed by NIV, Pune.
Talking about other diseases, the official said, "While the monsoon is in full swing, the significant increase in waterborne disease like acute diarrheal diseases including acute gastroenteritis will occur. But enough precautions and preventive measures are being taken by the state to deal with a possible epidemic.
"To control the possible outbreak of any water-borne diseases in flood-hit villages, a team of 16 medical officers and 134 para-medical officials have started checking and educating the people in flood-affected areas of Jamnagar district, three villages of Kachchh and 19 villages of Porbandar, on water-borne diseases," sources from the epidemic control department said.