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Brain fever kills 97 children in east India

18 June 2019

"Though there is no official figure on this yet, but, yes not less than 90 people have died in these districts in last four days due to intense heatwave", said a health department official, speaking on condition of anonymity. In both the hospitals, over 100 seriously ill children with symptoms of AES have been admitted and undergoing treatment.

Bihar health officials are also struggling to deal with a heatwave that has killed over 70 people.

According to official data available till late Monday night, 85 children died at the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzzaffarpur with a further 18 dying at the Kejriwal Maternity Hospital. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will today make his first visit to Muzzaffarpur since the outbreak began 17 days ago. SKMCH is the worst hit, with 69 deaths reported.

In Bihar, several measures are being taken to provide better medical facilities to Encephalitis affected children.

The response is expected within four weeks, the NHRC said, adding that deaths of children in such large numbers despite reported measure by government agencies could indicate a "possible flaw" in proper implementation of vaccination and awareness programmes.

Seated beside Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and MoS Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey in the meeting that took place on Sunday, Pandey asked, "How many wickets have fallen?"

The death toll however in the entire state has crossed over 150, following which the state government has asked all schools to remain shut till June 22.

Encephalitis is a viral disease that causes mild flu-like symptoms such as high fever, convulsions and headaches.

Vardhan visited Muzaffarpur on Sunday to take stock of the situation.

On Sunday, Vardhan had visited the families of the children suffering from AES in Bihar where doctors' strike has paralysed medical and health services.

The Japanese encephalitis virus is the most common cause of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in the country, causing 5% to 35% of the cases.

He expressed grief over the deaths and cancelled all the functions for welcoming him in view of the brain fever that has taken a heavy toll on children's lives. In Bihar, AES outbreaks are a routine in summer in areas in and around flood-prone districts in the state, where the disease is locally known as Chamki Bukhar or Mastishk Bukhar.

After extreme anxiety and chaos was witnessed at several hospitals in Muzaffarpur, the Health Department had immediately issued an advisory urging parents to prevent their children from playing under the sun when temperature is hovering between 42 to 43 degree Celsius.

Brain fever kills 97 children in east India