Seven die mysteriously in Bihar, docs suspect acute encephalitis

In November this year, mystery disease had claimed 13 lives in the state

By Alok Gupta
Published: Thursday 26 December 2013

Seven children have died mysteriously in Araria district of Bihar in the past 10 days. Doctors suspect that the children could have been afflicted with Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).

Another six children with similar conditions are critical and have been admitted to the district hospital.

Medical fraternity, however, is wondering how AES, a mosquito-borne disease that usually affects people in summer or after the monsoon, has found its way in the winters. Bimal Kant Thakur, civil surgeon in Araria, told Down To Earth that medical teams from Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences (RMRIMS) were probing the deaths.

“RMRIMS teams have collected blood and other samples of the victims. We suspect that AES is the cause for deaths,” said Thakur.

Perturbed by the deaths, the district administration has started spraying DDT and has sounded an alert in the district. “We are making announcements urging people to use mosquito nets and immediately take children to hospitals if they have fever,” said the civil surgeon.

Senior officials of the district administration claim that the spread of “suspected” AES has been controlled. Last two deaths were reported on December 22 from Belwa panchayat.

Mystery deaths not new in Bihar

About 13 mysterious adult deaths were reported from Sugauli panchayat in East Champaran district on November 25. A team of Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) was rushed to collect blood and viscera samples of the victims to find the cause of deaths. Doctors, however, have claimed that autopsy reports of victims have not helped reach any conclusions.

Sushil Modi, former deputy chief minister of Bihar, who then paid a visit to the families of deceased claimed that the cause of deaths was illicit liquor.

Sridhar Chiruvolu who is the district magistrate of Motihari, headquarters of East Champaran district, on Thursday said that the cause of deaths cannot be ascertained without seeing the forensic reports. “We are waiting for the reports to arrive,” added the official.

Acute encephalitis syndrome - A complex zoonotic disease

Incidence of Japanese Encephalitis among Acute Encephalitis Syndrome cases in West Bengal, India

Leptospirosis presenting as acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in Assam, India

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