Assam tops list of most encephalitis deaths
Till August 6 this year, the country had recorded 5,413 Acute Encephalitis Syndrome cases and 369 deaths while Japanese Encephalitis cases were at 838, with 86 deaths.
Thirty-seven more people have succumbed to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), a disease that affects the brain, in a week in the country, taking the total number of deaths to 406, shows government data.
The number of people infected with the disease has also gone up to 5,926 while that for Japanese Encephalitis (JE) is 903, with 93 deaths.
Till August 6 this year, the country had recorded 5,413 AES cases and 369 deaths while JE cases were at 838, with 86 deaths.
Even though the spotlight is on Uttar Pradesh, Assam is the worst affected state. Till August 13, the last day until when data is available with the Union health ministry, Assam recorded 2,016 JE and AES cases and 195 deaths. UP reported 1,320 cases and 155 deaths in the same period.
Assam topped the list with 1,534 cases of AES and 128 deaths, followed by UP with 1,208 cases and 152 deaths, West Bengal at 826 cases and 81 deaths, and Manipur with 690 cases and six deaths. The most number of JE cases, 482, have also been reported from Assam with 67 deaths, followed by Manipur with 141 cases and six deaths, and UP with 112 cases and three deaths.
Encephalitis is the swelling in the brain that leads to sudden high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, seizures, spastic paralysis and, finally, death. If the symptoms are not treated within hours of the first few appearing, 30% of those affected die.
Encephalitis symptoms can be caused by both JE and AES, with cases for both peaking during monsoon. Children under the age of 15 are the worst hit, with AES usually affecting children under five who are severely malnourished.
Of those affected, the ones who pull through rarely do so without some degree of disability. About one in three suffer permanent intellectual, behavioural or neurological problems, including partial paralysis, recurrent seizures and the inability to speak.
Globally, JE severely sickens about 68,000 people and kills between 13,600 and 20,400 each year.
“The problem of JE and AES is bigger in eastern UP and western Bihar due to hygiene and sanitation issues, lack of nutrition, among other factors. Our experts are looking into the problems and how best we can reduce the numbers,” said a senior health ministry official.