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Special Diphtheria Vaccination Drive Begins in Rayagada Following Outbreak

Rayagada: A targeted diphtheria vaccination drive is set to commence in Odisha’s Rayagada district today, following a deadly outbreak in the Kashipur area that has claimed the lives of five children.

Dr. Nilakantha Mishra, Director of Public Health, confirmed that there have been no new reported cases of diphtheria. “All patients in Rayagada hospital have been discharged, while four individuals are still undergoing treatment in Kalahandi. We have directed the affected districts to strengthen surveillance and conduct house-to-house visits. Surveys are underway in villages near the affected areas. The special vaccination drive will begin today,” he informed the media.

Containment measures are actively being implemented in Mahushpadar village, the epicenter of the outbreak, to prevent the disease from spreading to neighboring villages. The infection has already reached the Koraput and Kalahandi districts, which border Kashipur.

Dr. Sanjukta Sahoo, Director of Family Welfare, stated that all symptomatic children and adults have been administered antibiotics in accordance with health guidelines. “Treatment is being provided based on the advice of the SLN Medical College team. Mobile health teams are also conducting surveillance in neighboring districts including Kandamal, Koraput, Gajapati, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, and Kalahandi,” she said.

The Health and Family Welfare department has issued directives for the district administration to administer the pentavalent vaccine to children under one year, a single dose of diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and tetanus (DPT) to children aged one to seven, and tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine to those above seven years.

Initially, the vaccine will be administered to non-immunized and under-immunized children identified during the house-to-house survey in Mahushpadar village. The campaign will then expand to other hard-to-reach villages. “Health officials have been instructed to deploy a medical officer at each outreach vaccination site and ensure the availability of an anaphylaxis kit for managing any adverse events following immunization (AEFI). The vaccination drive is expected to be completed within 15 days,” stated Health Secretary Shalini Pandit.

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