A mystery disease stalking Bihar’s children claimed two more lives on Sunday, taking the death toll to 87 in the last 19 days and forcing the state to seek the Centre’s help for tackling the health nightmare.
The state has also sought the World Health Organisation’s assistance to identify the disease and cause. Children struck by the disease are dying after bouts of high temperature and convulsions.
The disease has been dubbed “acute encephalitis syndrome”, but experts have not been able to say for sure if it is encephalitis — an acute inflammation of the brain.A majority of the deaths have been reported in Muzaffarpur district in north Bihar and at least 10 in Gaya district in the southern part of the state.
The Anugrah Narayan Memorial Medical College Hospital at Gaya has attributed two of the deaths to Japanese Encephalitis — an infection of the brain caused by a virus transmitted by mosquitoes.
“Responding to our request, the Union health ministry is sending a team of specialists to Patna on June 11,” Bihar health minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey said on Sunday.
According to Muzaffarpur civil surgeon Dr Gyan Bhushan, 100 cases of “acute encephalitis syndrome” have been reported from various parts of the district. In the state capital, Dr Sanjata Rai Choudhary, head of department of paediatrics at Patna Medical College Hospital, said no child had died of the disease in the hospital. “Still, we are planning to create a special ward for encephalitis at the children’s hospital here. Besides, we are not sure about the exact nature of the disease,” she added.