Over a 100 more are fighting for their lives at different hospitals
UPDATE: After a team of top health department officers visited Muzaffarpur, the official death toll from symptoms akin to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES ) has reached 34, up from 11, officials have said on Jun 12.
An epidemic of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) has broken out in five north Bihar districts, with more than 50 children having died in the last nine days.
Over 100 children, seriously ill with symptoms of AES, are fighting for their lives at different hospitals, where they are undergoing treatment.
Locally known as Chamki Bukhar, at least 400 children have died in the last one decade due to AES, mainly in Muzaffarpur and its neighbouring districts of Vaishali, Sitamarhi, Samastipur, Sheohar, East and West Champaran. The worst outbreak was in 2012, when 120 children reportedly died.
The state health department, in its release, has stated that only 11 children died of AES in the state so far this year.
Contrary to this, doctors of two hospitals in Muzaffarpur, including the government-run Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) and the privately-run Kejriwal hospital, where most of the children were admitted, have said that 29 children have died in recent days with AES symptoms.
SKMCH superintendent Sunil Kumar Shahi said 19 children died in this season in the hospital with symptoms of AES.
Similarly, Rajiv Kumar of Kejriwal hospital said 10 children suffering from symptoms of AES and Japanese Encephalitis died during treatment.
“We have full details of children who died this season with symptoms of AES,” an official of SKMCH told Down To Earth from Muzaffarpur.
AES usually happens at temperatures above 42 degrees Celsius. “Children suffering from AES suddenly develop high fever. Their body temperature shoots up, they suffer from convulsions, weakness and even fall unconscious,” Sailesh Prasad Singh, civil surgeon of Muzaffarpur, said.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has expressed serious concern and directed concerned officials to take measures to contain the epidemic. “The government is serious. Teams of experts and doctors are keeping a close watch on the situation,” Kumar said.
The health department has issued an advisory to people to take care of their children during daylight hours and not allow them to play under the open sky.
Union Health Minister Dr Harshvardhan has taken note of the deaths of children in Muzaffarpur and asked a report in this connection from the SKMCH.
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