The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a plea seeking direction to urgently constitute a medical team to treat children suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Muzaffarpur of Bihar, ANI reported.
A vacation bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant agreed to hear the plea next Monday after the petitioner’s counsel sought an urgent listing of the matter, PTI reported. The plea also sought a direction to the Centre to provide necessary medical equipment and other support for effective treatment of children. The petition was filed by advocate Manohar Pratap.
The toll in the encephalitis outbreak was 127 as of Tuesday. Medical Superintendent at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzaffarpur Sunil Kumar Shahi on Wednesday said 372 children were admitted to the hospital till now, of which 118 have been discharged. “It is unfortunate that we have lost 93 lives due to AES [acute encephalitis syndrome],” Shahi told ANI. At least 112 people have lost their lives to encephalitis in Muzaffarpur, ANI reported on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Odisha government has ordered officials to test litchi fruit for toxic content, ANI reported. The directive came in the wake of reports that encephalitis was spreading in litchi growing areas of Bihar, including Muzaffarpur. The Department of Health and Family Welfare in Odisha asked the Food Commissioner to collect and test samples of litchi being sold in the market.
Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey had earlier said that a team that was formed to study the cause of encephalitis concluded that eating litchi on an empty stomach, dehydration and sleeping on an empty stomach were some of the causes of the disease.
Acute Encephalitis Syndrome causes fatal inflammation of the brain, along with fever, mental confusion, disorientation, delirium, or coma, and cause 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. However, the cause remains clinically unidentified in several cases.