After encephalitis, now Chikungunya grips Bihar

Even as the state was grappling with the mysterious disease—Japanese encephalitis—which so far has claimed the lives of 85 children in Gaya, another dreaded disease — chikungunya — has gripped Bihar, thereby ringing alarm bells within the medical fraternity.
At last count, 37 positive cases of the mosquito-borne viral disease have been reported so far, prompting the health department to issue alerts in all the districts.

 “This is a matter of great concern and steps are required to be taken on an urgent basis,” said the circular issued by secretary-cum-executive director of Bihar State Health Society (BSHS), Sanjay Kumar.

37 samples positive

“So far, 37 samples have tested positive, which is alarming. An outbreak of chikungunya clearly implies that the use of insecticides or mosquito repellents by the health department or the civic bodies has been grossly inadequate,” said Dr S Prakash, head of the microbiology department, Patna Medical College and Hospital .

Severe symptoms have been seen in the recent breakout of chikungunya.
 The infection triggers an illness with symptoms similar to those of dengue.
An acute febrile phase lasts up to two to five days, which is followed by a prolonged arthralgic phase that causes joint pain in the limbs.
The pain persists for weeks or months.

“The incubation period of chikungunya varies between two and five days. Symptoms of the disease include fever up to 104 degrees F.

Other non-specific symptoms include headache, conjunctivitis and slight photophobia,” explained a PMCH doctor.

“Before chikungunya takes an epidemic form, it must be rooted out,” said the executive director of the BSHS, adding he had asked civil surgeons to start malathion fogging in areas with higher density.

Meanwhile, with two more deaths being reported at Gaya’s Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College and Hospital (ANMMCH), the number of casualties due to suspected encephalitis has gone up to 85 in the last three months.

It was on August 27 last that the first case of encephalitis was reported from the Gaya hospital.

Encephalitis toll

Since then, 377 children have been admitted to ANMMCH, out of which 231 were discharged after successful treatment.

Two patients with serious conditions were referred to Patna Medical College and Hospital, while 31 left ANMMCH without any intimation. The rest 28 children are being treated in the paediatrics department.

The Patna High Court has taken cognisance of the death toll. A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justices T Meena Kumari and Vikas Jain has asked the Bihar government to file a reply within two weeks on the deaths due to encephalitis.

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