Mystery virus preys on children in eastern UP, 136 die this year | india | Hindustan Times
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Mystery virus preys on children in eastern UP, 136 die this year

A mysterious virus is preying on children in eastern Uttar Pradesh, infecting 726 and killing 136 of them this year, according to State Health Department records. Rajesh Kumar Singh reports.

india Updated: Aug 23, 2008 01:14 IST
Rajesh Kumar Singh

A mysterious virus is preying on children in eastern Uttar Pradesh, infecting 726 and killing 136 of them this year, according to State Health Department records.

The region, where Japanese Encephalitis rears its head virtually every monsoon, is no stranger to outbreaks. But this time, blood tests have shown that only 3.45 per cent of the children are infected with the Japanese Encephalitis virus. In the 96.55 per cent other cases, the virus is ‘unidentified’.

This virus has spread to 13 districts — Mau, Azamgarh, Ballia, Basti, Siddharthnagar, Sant Kabir Nagar, Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, Deoria, Maharajganj, Balrampur, Ambedkarnagar and Ghazipur.

As a result, the Health Department has sought help from the National Institute of Communicable Disease (NICD), New Delhi, the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, and the Centre for Research and Medical Entomology (CRME), Madurai, for identification of the virus. The department has received no reply from these institutes even after a month.

State Health Minister Anant Kumar Mishra on Thursday told HT: “I have shot off a letter to the NIV, Pune, and the NICD, New Delhi, to identify the mysterious virus.”

“Scientists from the premier institutes have collected 500 samples and assured us that they will let us know about the virus soon,” Mishra said.

The mysterious virus has spread even though the Health Department has carried out an immunisation drive in 27 districts to protect children from Japanese Encephalitis.

The Director, Communicable Diseases, Dr RR Bharati, said four crore children were administered the Chinese SA 14-14-2 vaccine. “But the mysterious virus continues to strike children,” he said.

Mishra said though the Health Department had established laboratories in 14 districts, they were good for identifying the Japanese Encephalitis virus only.