Seven more children have died of a mysterious disease in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district taking the death toll to 20, officials said on Sunday.
The children reported high fever, followed by bouts of unconsciousness and convulsions, leading to their death. Local people termed the mysterious disease as 'chamki ki bimari' and claimed that the symptoms are similar to encephalitis, a disease that causes inflammation of the brain.
Health officials however, are still unable to identify the disease.
"In the last twenty four hours, seven more children died due to a mysterious disease at two hospitals in Muzaffarpur. Till now twenty children have died of the disease and over 50 children have been admitted to different hospitals in the last six days," a district health official said.
Bihar health minister Ashwani Kumar Chaubey on Sunday said that government was serious to take care of children suffering from the unknown disease.
The district administration has sounded a high alert to check the spread of the disease.
Muzaffarpur Malaria Officer Dr Bhagirathi Prasad said, "It is unfortunate that the cause of the deaths could not be ascertained till date."
Prasad said a three member team of experts from Patna visited hospitals in Muzaffarpur Saturday to collect blood samples for test but it was a blunder.
"The team visited Muzaffarpur without courier agent to keep collected blood samples. It is nothing but a blunder," he said.
AP Singh, the district civil surgeon earlier said, "We cannot say what disease led to the death of the children here. The disease is yet to be identified. Whether it is encephalitis or some unknown disease, we can say only after medical reports come."
Official sources in the state health department here said there was no facility to identify encephalitis in Bihar.
The principal secretary of health department Amarjeet Sinha on Friday visited Muzaffarpur to take stock of the situation.