Highest hepatitis B cases in Himachal’s Spiti

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Shimla, March 7 (IANS) The highest number of hepatitis B cases have been detected in Spiti area of Himachal Pradesh, state Health Minister Kaul Singh said on Tuesday.

In a written reply in the state assembly, Singh said 4,231 people were screened from May 2015 to April 2016 and 963 cases (22 per cent) of hepatitis B and 39 cases (0.93 per cent) of hepatitis C cases were detected.

According to the minister, 200 hepatitis B cases were reported in the Indian Gandhi Medical College and Hospital in Shimla from Spiti in Lahaul-Spiti district before 2014.

The Himachal Pradesh government has launched universal hepatitis B vaccination for prevention and spread of the disease, he said.

Two doses of vaccination, covering a population of 19,000 across the district, have already been given and the third dose of vaccination will be administered in April.

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In addition, mandatory screening of all pregnant women for hepatitis B infection and provision of immunoglobulin and vaccination at all delivery points in the district has been ensured.

Lahaul-Spiti district is populated mainly by tribals. The climatic conditions are harsh as much of the land forms part of a cold desert where the mercury drops below minus 20 degrees Celsius during winter.

The Buddhist-dominated district in the Himalayan terrain at elevations ranging from 15,000 to 20,000 feet above the sea level attracts globe-trotters not only for nature-based activities but also to ancient monasteries like Tabo and Dhankar.

The district has no town, the population is rural and spread across 521 villages.

–IANS

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