11 children die from encephalitis in Bihar, CM calls for raising awareness

Bihar’s principal secretary, health, Sanjay Kumar, said that of the 11 deaths from AES this year, one death each was reported in April and May, and nine were reported between June 1 and June 8.
Published on Jun 11, 2019 02:36 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Patna | ByHT Correspondents, Patna/ Muzaffarpur

Following the string of deaths of children from acute encephalitis syndrome (AES), chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday asked state health department officials to sensitise the people about measures to prevent the disease.

As per the state health department, so far 11 children have died from the disease in this season. But sources from two hospitals put the number of AES deaths at their hospitals at 19 and 10, taking the total to 29.

Bihar’s principal secretary, health, Sanjay Kumar, said that of the 11 deaths from AES this year, one death each was reported in April and May, and nine were reported between June 1 and June 8.

Talking to the media after the customary Jan Samvad — a platform for common people to discuss development strategy — the CM said that these types of disease generally broke out ahead of the rains. “The department had taken steps to contain it. And if the cases are still coming up, it means there could be slackness on the part of the officials in creating awareness about the disease,” said Nitish, appealing to the people not to allow their children sleep at night without proper food and water intake.

Officials of the state health department stated that AES had so far claimed the lives of 11 children this year, four more from this period last year. The number of reported cases this year are 48, up from 40 in the past year over the same period. Those admitted with AES symptoms at Muzaffarpur’s Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital (SKMCH), were from Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, East Champaran, and West Champaran districts.

However, reports from Muzaffapur said that as many as 29 children belonging to the district and its adjoining areas, including Sitamarhi, Sheohar, and Motihari, have died in this season from AES and Japanese Encephalitis (JE). SKMCH superintendent Dr Sunil Kumar Shahi said that 19 deaths in this season were reported at the hospital. “Also, 10 children suffering from symptoms of AES and JE died while undergoing treatment at Kejriwal Maternity Clinic, Muzaffarpur,” said Dr Rajiv Kumar, a medical expert of the clinic.

Principal secretary Sanjay Kumar informed Nitish that the department was looking into the suspected cases of AES and JE reported in 222 blocks across 12 districts. “Necessary pathological kits and medicines to combat the outbreak have been made available to the teams engaged in the operation. So far, 27 cases of AES and JE have come to light, in which 10 children died due to the loss of sugar in the blood,” said Sanjay Kumar.

Medical experts said that the outbreak of AES and JE happened when summer heat rose to an extreme level. Children’s body temperature would shoot up, and there might be symptoms like convulsion, said the experts.

Dr Shahi said that 72 children were admitted to SKMCH in this season. “The situation has risen to an alarming level in this week, as more than 45 children have been admitted for treatment. Ailing children are being provided utmost care and quality treatment under a line of protocol as prescribed by the state government,” he added.

Blood samples of the admitted children are being sent to Rajendra Memorial Research Institute (RMRI), Patna, for further medical tests. All the beds of the paediatrics intensive care unit (PICU) are full due to the admissions of suspected AES cases. Efforts were on to run one more PICU in view of the threat perception of the disease, said the medical superintendent.

Dr SP Singh, chief medical officer, SKMCH, said that the reason behind the outbreak of the disease was yet to be confirmed, adding that it was being ascertained medically. “The disease is controlled only after the onset of monsoon rain,” said Dr Gopal Shankar Sahni, head, department of paediatrics at SKMCH.

There were 18 children being treated at the Kejriwal Maternity Clinic. The patients are being admitted with symptoms of acute fever and hypoglycaemia, which is an abrupt drop of sugar level in the body. Hypoglycaemia was fatal as it led to the collapse of the life-support function, said Dr Rajiv Kumar of KMC.



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