Health

Day after toddler’s death, AES fears keep Bihar doctors on toes

At least 2 more children show symptoms of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, are undergoing treatment at government-run hospital in Muzaffarpur

 
By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Monday 30 March 2020
Children suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) admitted in Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in June 2019.
Children suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) admitted in Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in June 2019. Children suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) admitted in Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in June 2019.

A day after a boy, who had symptoms akin to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), died in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district, the state government directed officials to check for its potential spread.

According to Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) officials, the three-and-a-half-year old boy was admitted on Friday with a high fever and tested positive for AES.

This is the first reported AES case of 2020, said doctors. In June 2019, more than 150 children died due to AES in Muzaffarpur.

SKMCH is the only advanced medical facility equipped to treat encephalitis cases in the district, which has been the centre of AES cases since last year.

At least two more children showed symptoms for the disease and are undergoing treatment at SKMCH, said doctors. Such cases are usually reported during May-June, when the summer is at its peak.

SKMCH superintendent S K Shahi told Down To Earth the hospital is on the alert and prepared to deal with the situation, if more such cases are reported.

He added that the hospital has purchased required medicines and paediatric intensive care units (PICU) are well-equipped.

“There will be no laxity at any level,” he added.

Gopal Shankar Sahni, head of the SKMCH’s paediatric department, said one of the children admitted at the hospital was undergoing treatment and responding well to it.

Another child, aged eight, developed cold and fever last week and was given medicines by a local doctor. However, his condition worsened and he was rushed to a primary health centre (PHC), where doctors referred him to SKMCH.

A doctor, on the condition of anonymity, flagged “early arrival of AES”, calling it a difficult situation amid novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ordered health officials to be on the alert. He also asked them to speed up awareness campaigns in rural pockets that reported most cases in the past.

“The CM flagged all precautionary measures in areas likely to be affected by AES. He directed that 100 beds in PICUs in SKMCH be prepared as soon as possible,” a senior official said.

“We have worked out a new strategy to deal with AES cases this time and there is no need to panic,” Bihar principal secretary of health department, Sanjay Kumar, said.

In June 2019, the epidemic was reported in five north Bihar districts. More than 600 children suffering from AES were admitted in several hospitals.

Locally known as Chamki Bukhar, it has claimed the lives of more than 500 children in the previous decade. The most affected areas comprised Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Sitamarhi, Samastipur, Sheohar and East and West Champaran.

AES is characterized by an acute onset of fever and clinical neurological conditions such as convulsions, weakness and confusion.

 

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