Encephalitis wreaks havoc in Bihar, claims 72 lives, 200 cases reported

Patna: The spread of ‘Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES)’, in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur and adjoining districts, has claimed the lives of 72 children so far in a short span of just a week. All health centres in the state have been put on high alert.

The Union Health Ministry has sent a team to assess the situation. For the last few years, the epidemic has been hitting these areas in May and June although it is rampant in Muzaffarpur and the adjoining regions this year. In 2013, Encephalitis had claimed the lives of 351 children in Uttar Pradesh.

Encephalitis, indiaIn Bihar, the number of children suffering from the ‘Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES)’ or severe brain fever is rapidly rising. More than 200 cases have been reported while 72 children succumbed to the disease last week. Most of the deaths occurred in the previous week alone with 23 children losing their lives on Monday.

Various reasons have been claimed to be responsible for the spread of the epidemic. According to some experts, the fruit Litchi is one of the reasons causing the disease. A particular type of deadly toxin was detected in the bodies of the dead children, and the chemical is found in the fruit Litchi. Muzaffarpur is recognised for the production of Litchi and with the spread of the disease also occurring in the state, it has strengthened the claims on the fruit. The excessive consumption of Litchi amongst the children suffering from the disease has caused an increase in the extent of hypoglycemia. The children are thus feared to have fallen prey to the ‘Acute Encephalitis Syndrome’. The AES causes brain fever, which is believed, may prove fatal for an individual.

In Muzaffarpur and adjoining areas, after the spread of the epidemic, the Union Health Ministry has become extremely alert, and a team has been sent to the region. Furthermore, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan is scheduled for a visit to Muzaffarpur as well.

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