Bihar CM faces people's ire over encephalitis death

Bihar CM faces people's ire over encephalitis death

With two more deaths being reported on Sunday, the death toll due to ‘mysterious disease’ in Muzaffarpur has gone up to 31 this year.

Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Sunday visited the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) at Muzaffarpur to take stock of the situation. However, he had to face angry parents of children afflicted with suspected encephalitis.

The hapless parents complained about lack of medical treatment and the absence of clear cut guidelines by the Union Health ministry about how to tackle such situation.

“I will talk to the prime minister and urge him to solve the root cause of this disease,” said Manjhi, who also announced ex-gratia of Rs 50,000 each to the family of those dead. 

In the last one week, the ‘encephalitis type’ mysterious disease has claimed the lives of 29 children. However, Muzaffarpur Civil Surgeon Gyan Bhushan confirmed only 19 deaths due to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES). 

“A total of 84 such cases have been reported so far. Out of which 19 have succumbed to the dreadful disease. The rest are under treatment,” the CS said. 

In the last few years, encephalitis has taken a heavy toll in Bihar with 45 children in 2011, 173 children in 2012 and 42 in 2013 respectively dying due to this disease.

The scientific probe by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) was carried out because May and June are the season for litchi and children have complained of exhibiting syndrome of the disease after visiting litchi orchards.

An expert team from the NCDC had visited SKMCH last year and helped the doctors to treat children with symptoms of AES. The experts team then visited the litchi orchards to detect virus thriving in litchi plants because it had been alerted about it by the Institute of Virology, Gorakhpur Medical College.

The experts team also probed the lifestyle and food habits of two survivors — (two children had fallen ill but survived). After classifying the disease as acute encephalitis syndrome, they concluded that it was caused by an infectious agent that remained yet to be identified.

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