Encephalitis assumes alarming proportions in UP

May 3rd, 2009 - 7:17 pm ICT by ANI  

By Pawan Shah

Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh), May 3 (ANI): Fetal encephalitis has made a brutal come back in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur District.

The vector-borne disease that causes inflammation of the brain has affected over 200 children in the region since the beginning of this year, 59 of whom have lost their lives.

Uttar Pradesh has been in the grip of encephalitis for last two decades and has now become a horror for the people.

The virus has affected the children not only in rural areas, but in some urban areas too.

Till 2008, the infection occurred only during the monsoon and winter as Encephalitis mostly proliferates in the waterlogged areas.

However, the infection has started showing its existence throughout the year now.

Several children are been admitted to the government hospitals in Gorakhpur after they showed symptoms of the disease.

“I got my child admitted here. Doctors said that it is the case of encephalitis. Many children got admitted in this hospital but almost 50 per cent of them expired. Even my child remained unconscious for 17 days. But now he is talking and crying. His condition seems to be much better now. Doctors said that it will take at least 2 months for the child to recover fully,” said Kamal Kishore Yadav, father of a child patient.

A senior physician of a government hospital, Sunil Arya, provided factual details of the disease.

He informed that his hospital has received 239 cases of the encephalitis infection since the beginning of this year.

Out of those cases, the doctors failed to save 59 children.

Another 126 patients were discharged, 27 left the medical treatment while the rest are still admitted.

“Encephalitis is a Japanese virus, but in India we call it Acute Encephalitis Syndrome. Cases of this syndrome occur throughout the year. Its mode of transmission is different from Japanese Encephalitis. It is borne out of water pollution and we are receiving such cases rather than the cases of Japanese encephalitis,” said Sunial Arya, Senior Physician, Baba Raghav Das Medical College.

While neighbouring China has drastically cut down its infection rate of Japanese encephalitis through mass vaccination programmes, India, which has suffered smaller outbreaks for decades, has consistently ignored it.

In 2004, only 400,000 children out of 7.5 million were vaccinated against encephalitis in Uttar Pradesh, which has taken the brunt of the disease.

In 2005, about 3,000 cases of encephalitis were reported and were termed as the most serious in India in nearly three decades.

In 2008, 2426 cases of acute encephalitis syndrome with 447 deaths were reported from Uttar Pradesh.

Encephalitis is caused by a virus found in pigs and is spread by mosquitoes. It affects the brain and the symptoms include high fever, severe headaches and convulsions that can lead to paralysis, coma and death. (ANI)

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