BHUBANESWAR: Primitive tribal groups (PTGs) of Odisha, like Mankadia, Juanga, Khadia, Lodha and Saora are carrying an alarmingly high Hepatitis B (HBV) load, to the tune of over 15 per cent.
The prevalence, surpassing the National rate — between two and seven per cent — should be a cause for concern as the tribes are witnessing low population growth. It warrants urgent redirection of public health interventions including raising awareness to stop practices contributing to the spread of the virus, an Indian Council of Medical Research report said.
The first comprehensive report on prevalence of HBV among PTGs in Odisha has stated that the Mankada tribe is particularly afflicted with a carrier population of more than 28.1 per cent while Juanga has over 18 per cent. The spread of infection among the Khadia, Lodha and Saora tribes ranges around 12.2, 7.4 and 2.3 per cent respectively. It reported major risk factors as sharing of razor blades, tattooing and body piercing. Shaving by the village barber, who uses the same razor blade on multiple people, is a significant transmission route. In fact, shaving by the village barber was reported a whopping 65 per cent of males.