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Home / India News / Encephalitis toll rises to 152, spreads to 20 Bihar districts; scare in Madhya Pradesh

Encephalitis toll rises to 152, spreads to 20 Bihar districts; scare in Madhya Pradesh

The death toll from acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) reached 152 in Bihar, with medical officials stating that the disease has spread to 20 of the state’s 38 districts.

india Updated: Jun 24, 2019, 08:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Patna
According to officials familiar with the matter, a child succumbed to the disease late on Saturday at the Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital in Muzaffarpur — the epicentre of the outbreak.
According to officials familiar with the matter, a child succumbed to the disease late on Saturday at the Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital in Muzaffarpur — the epicentre of the outbreak. (AFP file photo)

The death toll from acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) reached 152 in Bihar, with medical officials stating that the disease has spread to 20 of the state’s 38 districts.

According to officials familiar with the matter, a child succumbed to the disease late on Saturday at the Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital in Muzaffarpur — the epicentre of the outbreak.

“AES has spread to 20 districts of Bihar but the total number of cases has come down. The death toll due to the disease has reached 152,” Bihar’s principal secretary (health) Sanjay Kumar said, adding that one fresh AES case was reported in the last 36 hours.

Since the first fatality was reported on June 5, the state government’s response has been criticised with many saying that Muzaffarpur’s “poor” healthcare system was overwhelmed by the scale of the outbreak. On Sunday, a portion of the roof outside the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at SKMCH collapsed. “A patch of plaster from the roof fell. Nobody was injured. It’s not inside any ward,” news agency ANI quoted the hospital’s superintendent Sunil Kumar Shahi as saying.

A Congress delegation met with public resistance when it visited SKMCH on Sunday. In another incident, an LJP MLA had to beat a hasty retreat when he visited Vaishali, where seven children had died on June 3. Villagers initially gheraoed the legislator’s vehicle and then took him to a hut and temporarily held him hostage, until his securitymen freed him and whisked him away, as some villagers even pelted stones at the MLA’S speeding vehicle.

Earlier, a five-member Congress delegation, led by state president Madan Mohan Jha and Bihar in-charge Birendra Singh Rathore blamed the state government for its failure to tone up healthcare, leading to AES deaths. The Congress said it was high time that the central team of experts should unravel the reason behind AES. The disease has been recurring every year since 1995.

Battling with the management of AES, the state health department placed under suspension Dr Bhimsen Kumar, a senior resident in the department of paediatrics at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) for dereliction of duty. His suspension order, issued by the undersecretary of the state health department on Saturday, said Dr Kumar was absent from duty during an inspection of SKMCH late on June 20.

While placing him under suspension, the government also decided to terminate his residency tenure. A separate order, initiating departmental proceedings against the doctor would be issued later, the order said. Dr Kumar had been sent on deputation from PMCH to SKMCH on June 19.

Madhya Pradesh on alert

Madhya Pradesh health officials are on alert after a man said doctors at a private hospital told him his eight-year-old son, who died on Sunday, was suffering from AES. “The doctors at the community health centre at Khategoan told me that my son was suffering from brain fever. I took him to a private hospital where a doctor said that he might be suffering from Chamki Bukhar [as AES is known locally in MP]. I admitted him to MY Hospital Saturday and he died on Sunday,” the boy’s father Ibrahim Khan said.

The doctors at MY Hospital did not confirm if the child was suffering from AES as they were still awaiting his reports. They said the boy had a viral fever but was not suffering from malnourishment, one of the underlying causes of death due to AES.

State health minister Tulsi Silawat said the boy’s blood samples will be sent to Pune’s National Institute of Virology to ascertain if he died due to AES. “A team of health department was also sent to the boy’s village to organise a camp and check the possibility of spread of the disease,” said Silawat.

(With inputs Bhopal)

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