Encephalitis kills 3 kids in Bihar, toll at 92

December 8th, 2011 - 9:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Dec 8 (IANS) Suspected Japanese encephalitis, which causes irritation and swelling of the brain, has claimed three more lives since Wednesday, taking the toll to 92 children in Bihar’s Gaya district in the last three-and-half months, an official said.

“Three more children died since the last 24 hours,” an official said Thursday. The children reported high fever, followed by bouts of unconsciousness and convulsions. Most of the children belonged to poor families.

The first encephalitis-related death in the district this year was reported Aug 23.

All the children died at the Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College and Hospital (ANMCH) in Gaya, about 100 km from Patna, said district health officials.

The hospital’s paediatrics department head, Dr. A.K. Ravi told IANS on phone that till date, 92 children have died due to the disease. More than 395 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.

ANMCH’s Superintendent Sitaram Prasad said the government had employed several medical teams to control the disease.

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

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

Three 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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