Encephalitis spreading in Bihar, 92 children dead

Patna : Fifteen more children died in Bihar of suspected encephalitis in the past 24 hours as the disease spread to new districts, taking the death toll to 92, officials said Monday.

Thirteen children died of the suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) Sunday while two children died Monday, taking the death toll to 92, health officials said.

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The disease, which was limited to Muzaffarpur district till last week, has now spread to at least half a dozen districts across the state. “The AES is now spreading its tentacles to new areas,” said Deepak Kumar, principal secretary of the health department.

Cases of AES reported from Vaishali, Samastpur, Sheohar, East Champaran, Sitamarhi, Begusarai, Gaya and Patna districts. But Muzaffarpur remains the worst affected by encephalitis followed by Sitamarhi and East Champaran districts, health officials said.

Muzaffarpur civil surgeon Gayan Bhusan said the number of children showing AES like symptoms has crossed 300 mark this year. “Monsoon rains will provide relief to children suffering from the disease and will help to suppress the virus causing the disease,” he said.

Bihar Health Minister Ramdhani Singh said the health department has sent mobile treatment vans and 55 doctors from other districts to Muzaffarpur.

According to doctors, the AES is a severe case of encephalitis characterised by inflammation of the brain. The mosquitoes transmit the infection causing high fever among the children.

Early this year, the state government launched a special vaccination drive to cover hundreds of thousands of children against encephalitis.