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Bihar: After 20 more children succumb to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in the last 24 hours, death toll rises to 100

According to the official data, while 83 children had died at the SKMCH, 17 deaths had been recorded at the Kejriwal Matrisadan since January this year. Currently, 115 patients were being treated at the two hospitals.

The outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in the country has become severe as twenty more children succumbed to the fever in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll in Muzaffarpur and other districts of Bihar close to 100.

This syndrome is locally called the ‘chamki’ fever. Encephalitis, a rare disease, is an inflammation (swelling and irritation) of the brain. In most cases, a virus causes this inflammation. Most cases happen in children, the elderly, and people with a weakened immune system. It causes flu-like symptoms such as high fever, convulsions and headaches.

Last week, Bihar Health Minister, Mangal Pandey said that according to the team which was formed to ascertain the cause of this disease concluded that sleeping empty stomach at night, dehydration due to humidity and eating lychee on empty stomach were some of the primary causes of AES.

According to the Superintendent of Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) Sunil Kumar Shahi, “death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Muzaffarpur has risen to 100”. Most of the casualties are between the age group of 1-10.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan visited the SKMCH in Muzaffarpur on Sunday where the maximum number of children have died in the last two weeks due to the Syndrome.

Sources confirmed that almost three children died during Vardhan’s four-hour visit, leaving the minister and other official terrified.

“The doctors here at the hospital are doing their best under such a difficult situation in treating the children. A multi-disciplinary institute will be set up here in the next year to identify the reason behind this disease,” Harsh Vardhan said.

The Union Minister, in another review meeting, which took place before he left for New Delhi, assured the relatives of the affected children that, “The government will leave no stone unturned to contain it at the earliest. All possible measures are being taken for the purpose,” he said.

According to the official data, while 83 children had died at the SKMCH, 17 deaths had been recorded at the Kejriwal Matrisadan since January this year. Currently, 290 patients were being treated at the two hospitals. In 2014, a similar AES outbreak had claimed 379 lives.

In the wake of this epidemic, the Cheif Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar had earlier announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh each to families of the deceased.

He had also given directions to the health department, district administrators and the doctors to take necessary measures to fight the disease.

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