A panel constituted by the Odisha government has said that the children, who have died in the state’s Malkangiri over the last two months, may not have succumbed to Japanese Encephalitis. In its interim report, the panel said on Friday that the children may have died of Encephalopathy, which is caused due to consumption of a plant, ‘bana chakunda’ (cassia occidentalis).
The state government had formed the six-member panel, led by eminent virologist Dr Jacob John from Vellore’s Christian Medical College, earlier this month. In the interim report, Dr John said that anthraquinone, a toxin found in the plant, was found in the urine sample of 5 deceased children. “This indicates that the children (had) consumed the seeds of the plant,” he said.
Around 100 children have died in Malkangiri since September. The committee also recommended further investigation into relative contributions of JE and encephalopathy along with other causes that might affect the central nervous system.