Scores of Children Die of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Bihar


The death toll of children due to suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Muzaffarpur area of Bihar on Friday went up to 77. Ten more deaths were reported on Saturday, taking the toll to 77. Most of the casualties are between the age group of 1-10.

Doctors claim that the deaths, due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), are being caused due to excessive heat and humidity. Locally, this fever is being called ‘Chamki’.

Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 Lakh each to families of the children who died due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Muzaffarpur. He has also given directions to health department, district administration and the doctors to take necessary measures to fight the disease.

The State government has announced that it will open a new 100-bed ward for children, and six additional ambulances would be deployed for the government-run Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH).

Earlier on Wednesday, a four-member team of doctors, led by Dr. Arun Sinha, visited the SKMCH, where children with symptoms of AES have been admitted. The team then issued guidelines and suggestions to local medical experts and doctors.

Though the State government had previously said the cause of death of small children, mostly from poor families, was hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels, experts and private doctors in Muzaffarpur told The Hindu that “AES is a broader aspect of hypoglycemia”.

Meanwhile, sick children with symptoms of AES continue to be admitted into the two crammed Pediatric Intensive Care Units (PICU) at SKMCH.

A separate makeshift ward, too, is full with children suffering from AES symptoms.

A statement from district authorities said nine children at SKMCH and five in Kejriwal hospital were in critical condition.

“Doctors and nurses are doing round-the-clock duty to monitor the situation. Some of the children have also been discharged from the hospital, after getting well,” said

SKMCH Principal Dr. Sunil Kumar Shahi said, “We have an in-patient bed strength of only 610, whereas the number of patients admitted is around 876. But we are managing to provide treatment to all of them.”

Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai on Saturday visited the Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital in Muzaffarpur and took stock of the situation. He also met the family members of the children who are undergoing treatment and assured of all central and state assistance.

“The entire state is in a state of shock over the death of innocent children. We are with the family members of the affected and ready to provide any kind of assistance”, Nityanand Rai said.

Experts are of the opinion that unless and until rainfall takes place, the situation will only aggravate in days to come.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan will visit Bihar’s Muzaffarpur on Sunday to take stock of the situation there in view of rising cases of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and Japanese Encephalitis (JE) there.

During his visit, the minister will interact with the multi-disciplinary teams deployed there and address a state-level review meeting.

Harsh Vardhan said that the health ministry is constantly monitoring the situation and supporting the state health authorities in managing the AES/JE cases.


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