Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan will visit Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district on Sunday to review the situation after the toll in the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome outbreak rose to 67, PTI reported. However, Dr Shailesh Prasad Singh, a civil surgeon at a district hospital, told ANI the toll had risen to 73.
“I shall discuss the management measures being recommended by the high-level expert team of the Centre, and support that can be extended through National Health Mission for health systems strengthening, and other ministries of the Central government, including the Ministry of Women and Child Development as part of the immediate and long term measures,” Vardhan said.
According to unidentified state health officials, all the victims, most of whom were below the age of 10, died of hypoglycemia, a condition caused by a very low level of blood sugar and electrolyte imbalance, PTI reported.
Vardhan said the Union health ministry was constantly monitoring the situation and supporting the state health authorities to manage the encephalitis cases. “The continued round-the-clock presence of the central and state Teams in the affected areas and preventive actions taken by them have instilled confidence among the public,” he claimed. “We will soon be able to contain the rise in Acute Encephalitis Syndrome/Japanese Encephalitis cases,” he added.
Most of the affected children are from districts such as Vaishali, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, East Champaran, and West Champaran.
The symptoms of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, which causes fatal inflammation of the brain, include fever, mental confusion, disorientation, delirium, or coma, and onset of seizures. The Japanese encephalitis virus is the most common cause of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in the country, causing 5% to 35% of the cases. But the syndrome is also caused by scrub typhus, dengue, mumps, measles, and Nipah and Zika viruses, according to The Indian Express. However, the cause remains clinically unidentified in several cases.