The toll in suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur rose to 83 on Sunday morning, The Times of India reported quoting a medical bulletin. However, the superintendent at the government-run Sri Krishna Medical Collegeand Hospital, Sunil Kumar Shahi, told ANI that the toll stands at 80.
The medical bulletin states that 69 children have died at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital while 14 have died at Kejriwal Matrisadan, a private hospital in Muzaffarpur, till 9 am am on Sunday, according to The Times of India.
An unidentified civil surgeon said a total 326 suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome cases have been recorded since January this year – 230 at SKMCH and 96 at Kejriwal Matrisadan. Among the 93 patients who are undergoing treatment at the two hospitals – 74 at SKMCH and 19 at Kejriwal Matridan – 12 patients are reportedly in a critical condition.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan visited Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital to review the situation. On Saturday, Vardhan had said that the Union health ministry was constantly monitoring the situation and supporting the state health authorities to manage the encephalitis cases.
“Government has been working from the beginning,” Bihar minister Suresh Sharma told ANI. “There is no lack of medicines. However, there are lack of beds and ICUs as compared to the emergency situation at present.”
Most of the affected children are from districts such as Vaishali, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, East Champaran and West Champaran.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced an ex-gratia package of Rs 4 lakh each to families of the children who died. He also instructed the health department, district administration and doctors to take necessary measures to fight the disease.
Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey had also claimed that the state government is doing its best to save the children. “We are trying everything and anything that can save children’s lives,” Pandey said. “Everything is being made available from medicines to doctors. We have even called doctors and nurses from AIIMS in Patna.”
The state health department had cited hypoglycemia, a condition caused by very low level of blood sugar and electrolyte imbalance, as the main reason for the deaths.
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.