The Bihar Post

Suspected encephalitis kills 15 children in Bihar

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PATNA—Suspected encephalitis has struck again in Bihar, claiming the lives of 15 children belonging to poor families.

In the past 24 hours, the mystery disease has killed two children — a six-year-old boy and a one-and-a-half-year-old girl — in Muzaffarpur, a north Bihar district currently affected by severe floods. Both the victims belong to poor families.

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Doctors said the victim identified as Bhola Kumar was admitted to Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur with high fever on Tuesday but he collapsed on Friday despite all efforts by them.

“He was brought in a critical condition after which we provided him with all medical support. Unfortunately, we failed to save him,” the hospital’s paediatric department’s head Dr Gopal Shankar Sahani said on Saturday.

The other victim, a girl identified as Kriti Kumari, too was suffering from high fever and her condition remained critical when admitted to the hospital. “Her test report confirmed she was infected with acute encephalitis syndrome (AES),” the doctor said.

According to doctors, a total of 60 cases of suspected encephalitis were reported to this hospital so far this year. Most of the cases were reported from six north Bihar districts, such as Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, East and West Champaran, Vaishali and Sheohar.

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All of them are flood prone districts which face annual flood devastation with the houses of the villagers remaining flooded for weeks.

A health bulletin released by the Muzaffarpur district administration said it had launched massive efforts to check this disease yet it continues to target children. The first case was reported in February this year.

However, compared to previous years, there has been a drop in the number of cases and deaths. Last year, the state reported seven deaths and 57 cases. In 2019, the total deaths were recorded at 164 whereas the total cases remained at 653.

Officials cite various measures behind the drop in cases of suspected encephalitis. According to them, they have been launching various preventive measures to check this disease.

Under part of these measures, all children up to the age of five years are being provided nutritious meals and the villagers are being told not to allow their children to go to bed without having a meal in the evening.

Apart from these, vulnerable families are being provided free ration and concrete houses with toilet facilities to protect children from deadly disease. Also, massive awareness campaigns are being launched in villages.

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