With two more deaths reported on Wednesday, the total number of kids who have died in Muzaffarpur and adjoining districts have reached up to 38. The Bihar Government has, however, insisted that “most of the deaths are due to hypoglycemia (deficiency of glucose/sugar in the bloodstream), and not due to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES), as being reported in a section of media.”
The state government has apprised Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan about the gravity of the situation. The Centre has dispatched a central team to Bihar to assess the ground reality as 19 children have died at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur from January to June this year. Rest of the children died in neighbouring districts like Sitamarhi, Sheohar and Motihari.
Harsh Vardhan may personally visit Muzaffarpur on Thursday to get first-hand information on the deaths.
“So far no death has been confirmed due to encephalitis. In 80% of the cases, deaths took place due to hypoglycemia,” said Principal Secretary, Health Department, Sanjay Kumar. He, however, added that he would be able to shed more light on the issue after the medical returns from Muzaffarpur.
“The two kids who passed away in the last 24 hours have been identified as Shagufta Khatoon (3) and Shiv Kumar (7). Both are from Muzaffarpur district,” said SKMCH superintendent, Dr SK Shahi.
Meanwhile, sources in the health department said that most of the kids who have died belong to extremely poor families. “They sleep empty stomach. And early morning, pick up litchi (the famous fruit of Muzaffarpur) from the orchards. Consuming litchi empty stomach is quite dangerous,” said an official.
Doctors who have attended the children in the government hospitals, however, said that most of the victims reported high temperature, coupled with a deficiency of glucose/sugar in the bloodstream.
“I am pained over death of children. We are taking measures to tackle the situation. Besides, a team is being rushed to Muzaffarpur and adjoining areas to assess the situation and suggest remedial measures,” said Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.