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‘Conspiracy to damage brand name of litchi’: Bihar MP urges govt to probe litchi link in encephalitis deaths

Child specialist Arun Shah who was previously at the helm of the Bihar chapter of Indian Association of Pediatrics had said that consumption of unripe litchi containing a high concentration of toxin could be behind the AES outbreak in Muzaffarpur.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: June 21, 2019 6:58:06 pm
Rajiv Pratap Rudy Rajiv Pratap Rudy made the remark while participating in a debate during the Zero Hour during the ongoing monsoon session in the Lok Sabha. (Express photo by Jaipal Singh)

Alleging a conspiracy to damage the ‘brand name’ of litchi, BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy urged the state government to investigate the link between the fruit’s consumption and deaths of children due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar.

“We are told that eating litchi by children in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur may be cause of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). This is a conspiracy to damage the brand name of litchi… We are eating litchis since our childhood but we did not suffer from AES,” Rudy was quoted as saying by PTI.

Rudy, the MP from Bihar’s Saran district, made the remark while participating in a debate during the Zero Hour during the ongoing monsoon session in the Lok Sabha.

He also stated that as a result of the hearsay about litchi’s link with AES deaths, people have stopped eating the fruit or relishing on its juice.  “The government must probe if there is conspiracy to harm interest of Indian litchi farmers by linking death of children due to AES in Muzaffarpur to consumption of litchi,” he added.

More than 100 children have died in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district due to suspected AES.

PTI reported that independent child specialist Arun Shah, who was previously at the helm of the Bihar chapter of Indian Association of Pediatrics, had said that consumption of unripe litchi containing a high concentration of toxin could be behind the AES outbreak in Muzaffarpur.

EXPLAINED |  What causes AES? What makes Bihar so vulnerable?

The medical opinion, however, continues to be divided over the causes of the AES outbreak

AES is a broad term involving several infections and affects young children. The syndrome can be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi. In India, the most common cause is the virus that causes Japanese encephalitis (JE). Health Ministry estimates attribute 5-35% of AES cases to the JE virus.

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