Mystery virus claims lives of 7 children

A mysterious virus has claimed the lives of seven children in West Bengal’s Malda district. After preliminary investigations, doctors said the virus, which has claimed the children’s lives since Tuesday at the state-run Malda Medical College & Hospital, has been linked to litchi fruit and attacks only children. 

“From June 3, till 8 am in the morning June 7, seven children have died. The viral syndrome occurred last in 2012 and can be called rare,” vice principal-cum-superintendent of Malda Medical College & Hospital M A Rashid told reporters. 

Rashid explained that the virus found in litchi and is said to have originated in China, affects the brain and causes swelling. The superintendent said the virus is particularly virulent in summer months in certain regions of north India, including Bihar which is close to Malda.

He said parents notice fever and spells of vomiting in children affected by the virus. The condition intensifies and culminates in convulsions, leading to death in five-six hours. The superintendent noted that the symptoms are sudden. 

“Teams of specialists from the School of Tropical Medicine in Kolkata and Indian Council of Medical Research will visit the hospital on Saturday,” Rashid said.

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