Two more kids die of encephalitis in Bihar, toll 85

November 17th, 2011 - 7:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Nov 17 (IANS) Suspected encephalitis, which causes irritation and swelling of the brain, has claimed the lives of 85 children in Bihar’s Gaya district in the last two-and-a-half months, with two more succumbing to the disease Thursday, an official said.

“Two more children died on Thursday,” an official said. The children reported high fever, followed by bouts of unconsciousness and convulsions. Most of the children belong to poor families.

The first encephalitis-related death in the district this year was reported Aug 23. All the children died at Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College and Hospital (ANMCH) in Gaya, about 100 km from Patna, said district health officials.

Hospital paediatrics head A.K. Ravi told IANS on the telephone that till date, 85 children had died due to the disease. About 386 children with suspected encephalitis were admitted for treatment.

“Most of the children are from rural areas of Gaya and neighbouring districts. Over two dozen children are still battling for their lives,” he said.

Encephalitis is an acute inflammation of the brain resulting either from a viral infection or when the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks the brain tissue.

Bihar Health Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey told IANS that the government had alerted health officials to provide medical treatment to all the affected and to take measures to check the spread of the disease.

ANMCH’s Superintendent Sitaram Prasad said the government had employed several medical teams to control the disease. “We are doing our best to treat and save the children,” he said.

A district administration official said that suspected encephalitis earlier hit Gaya in 2009, 2007 and 2005 and killed dozens of children.

Two months ago, 55 children died in Muzaffarpur district but the state government is yet to confirm these as encephalitis deaths.

Two months ago, union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad informed the Rajya Sabha that data suggested that it was an outbreak of acute encephalitis syndrome, resulting in 150 cases and 55 deaths, mostly among children.

In a written reply, the minister said these cases were reported from early June to mid-July from Muzaffarpur and its bordering areas in Bihar.

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