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Encephalitis kills 65 in Bihar, govt says disease spread due to heat wave

As many as 53 children, with acute encephalitis syndrome like symptoms, were admitted to two hospitals in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur on Saturday.

india Updated: Jun 16, 2019 10:47 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Muzaffarpur
SKMCH,Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital,Muzaffarpur
The health Bihar department asked people not to give lychee to children. (Parwaz Khan /HT PHOTO)

The toll from acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in Bihar reached 65 on Saturday. Of these, 55 deaths have been reported from Muzaffarpur’s Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) and 10 from Kejriwal Maternity Clinic (KMC), a private hospital.

SKMCH’s medical superintendent, Dr SK Shahi, confirmed the deaths of eight more children on Saturday. So far 55 children had died at the hospital, he added.

As many as 53 children, with AES like symptoms, were admitted to the two hospitals on Saturday. These children were brought from various parts of the district as well as adjoining East Champaran, West Champaran, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Vaishali, and Samastipur districts. District authorities said that the children were suffering from high and irregular fever, vomiting, seizures, and acute headaches.

Bihar’s principal secretary (health), Sanjay Kumar, and other health department officials visited SKMCH on Saturday to review the situation. Kumar checked paediatric intensive care units, with a team of encephalitis experts and later held discussions with the attending doctors.

Kumar told journalists that a seven-member central team, which was monitoring the AES outbreak in Bihar, was yet to ascertain the reason for the spread of the disease.

“The central experts are of the view that there are multiple factors behind the children falling sick from the viral disease broadly named AES,” Kumar said. “It is high time researchers did an in-depth investigation for ascertaining the causes behind the AES outbreak,” he added.

Also read:In Bihar hospital, encephalitis rush forces docs to treat patients on floor

Five nursing staff members and a team of doctors being sent from government hospitals in Patna are likely to help the medical team at SKMCH.

An advisory issued by the state health department said children between 1 and 15 years were susceptible to AES and Japanese encephalitis and timely treatment was the best way to deal with them. It said that the disease had spread because of excessive heat and humidity. Bihar is facing an intense heat wave.

The health department also asked people not to give lychee to children. It also said that if a child has eaten lychee during the day, then it should be ensured that the child gets a healthy meal before going to sleep.

Bihar’s main opposition party, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), accused the state government of being in a “state of oblivion” over the outbreak. An RJD delegation, led by state party chief Ram Chandra Purve, also visited SKMCH on Saturday, and met the families of the patients and doctors of the central team.

Attacking the state government, Purve said, “The chief minister is in a state of oblivion, while children are losing their lives at the hospital of Muzaffarpur. Why has not he visited the hospital yet?” he asked. “...the central team has expressed doubts about malnutrition, lychee, drinking water, and dietary habits as factors for the spread, and have confused the people,” he added.

First Published: Jun 15, 2019 23:48 IST