BHUBANESWAR: The 'unknown' fever, which killed several children in Malkangiri district between October 9 and November 1, seems to have been decoded with Japanese encephalitis (JE) being cited as the cause of the disease.
According to official figures, 23 children succumbed to the disease, while the unofficial toll stood at 40.
Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) sent a report to the state integrated disease surveillance cell saying they found JE virus in 10 samples in the affected areas. "We tested children suffering in the area for various diseases such as dengue, JE and Chandipura virus. Ten samples tested positive for JE," RMRC director S K Kar told TOI.
RMRC had also sent blood samples from the locality to National Institute of Virology, Pune, and found identical results. Kar said clinical symptoms of the deceased children and current morbidity of others confirm JE was the killer.
Children in the age group of four days to 10 years were killed due to the disease. While some of them died within 48 hours, others survived up to six days. The children suffered vomiting and drowsiness with or without high body temperature, said an RMRC scientist familiar with the development.
Dr Kar said Culex Vishnoi, the mosquitoes that transmit JE from pigs to human, were abundantly available in the affected localities. Besides, there were also several piggeries in the area. JE is not transmitted from human to human, he said.