The death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) has risen to 73 in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district, news agency ANI reported. Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan will visit Muzaffarpur on Sunday to review the situation prevailing in the region.
All the deaths have been reported from Shri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) and Kejriwal Matrisadan. Since January, 134 children have been admitted to the two hospitals, 119 at SKMCH alone. Two days ago, the death toll was 48.
On Thursday, a seven-member central team had visited both the hospitals in the state and had recommended for a separate ward for children, along with a laboratory at SKMCH. “The team asked us to stick to the standard operating procedure of giving symptomatic treatment but asked for setting up a separate children ward with a laboratory at SKMCH. The team felt a laboratory at the hospital would provide reports quickly and help in the treatment of AES,” Muzaffarpur civil surgeon Dr Shailesh Kumar Singh had said.
Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey said that the doctors in the state were trying their best to save the lives of the affected children. “We are trying everything and anything that can save children’s lives. Everything is being made available, from medicines to doctors. We have even called a doctor and a few nurses from Patna’s AIIMS,” Pandey was quoted as saying.
Nityanand Rai, Minister of State for Union Ministry for Home Affairs, also visited both the SKMCH and Kejriwal Matrisadan to review the situation of the patients.
AES affects the central nervous system, mostly in children and young adults. It starts with high fever, then hampers neurological functions causing mental disorientation, seizure, confusion, delirium, coma. The disease outbreak is usually reported during monsoons (June-October). But the incidence is also reported during April-June in Bihar.
According to the National Health Portal of India, Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is the major cause of AES in India. The virus was clinically diagnosed in India for the first time in 1955 in the southern state of Tamil Nadu and was also reported in Bihar.
In India, AES cases were reported mainly from Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh.