Six more children die of Encephalitis syndrome in Bihar, death toll rises

Mangal Panday

Mangal Panday

The death toll due to the outbreak of viral infection Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) has reached 100 in Bihar on Sunday. In the wake of the situation, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed grief over the deaths and announced "an ex gratia payment of Rs. 4 lakh to the next of the kin of those who have died". The number of deaths in Muzaffarpur now stands at 73 this month.

Nine children undergoing treatment at SKMCH are serious, the release said, adding that five children are critical in Kejriwal hospital. Muzaffarpur civil surgeon Dr S P Singh said 62 children have died at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) and 11 at Kejriwal Matrisadan in Muzaffarpur since January this year due to suspected AES. After returning from Delhi, Pandey went to Muzaffarpur early in the morning and met the children recruited there. "The Health Ministry in the state held a meeting on this and decided to make people aware of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES)", said Mangal Pandey while briefing media. The team also advised SKMCH to take up research and concentrate on a regular follow-up of patients.

The team asked SKMCH authorities to set up a separate research wing under the departments of microbiology and pathology to study the disease.

Most of the affected children are from districts such as Vaishali, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, East Champaran, and West Champaran. The numbers of cases are declining.

In 2015, United States researchers had said the brain disease could be linked to a toxic substance found in the exotic fruit.

At least 40 other children complaining of similar symptoms were being treated at intensive care units. Kanti, Musahari, Katra, Minapur and Muraul blocks in Muzaffarpur district have been identified as most vulnerable for the suspected AES cases.

Encephalitis is caused by a virus which causes inflammation in the brain and usually affects people with a weak immune system. The disease is transmitted through mosquito bites, leading to infection that causes high fever.