According to state health services director B.R. Satpathi, the popularity of wandering minstrels or bauls is being tapped to spread awareness about seasonal vector-borne diseases like dengue, malaria and encephalitis.
"We are tapping into various local folk culture, e.g. bauls and other art forms, to raise awareness during this season. The focus will be north Bengal because of encephalitis situation," Satpathi told IANS Wednesday.
Magicians in rural areas have been roped in to communicate the hazards of diseases, he said.
The encephalitis toll this year has risen to 206, the official said.
In July-August, as many as 90 people have died due to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) while 28 have succumbed to Japanese encephalitis (JE) in the northern districts of the state.
Encephalitis is a disease that results in inflammation of the brain, affecting the patient's central nervous system. It can be caused due to bacterial or viral infections of the brain, injection of toxic substances or increased complications of an infectious disease.
While the lesser symptoms include headaches and fevers, the more severe ones cause the onset of mental problems like seizures, confusion, disorientation, tremors and hallucinations.
JES is caused by a mosquito-borne virus. While human beings are the dead-end hosts of the virus, pigs act as amplifying hosts that aid in spread of the disease.