Patna/ Muzaffarpur: With the death toll of children suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar rising to 124 on Friday, Union Health Minister Harshvardhan is arriving in Patna tonight to take stock of the situation.
"Altogether 123 people have died in two hospitals here so far, including six in the last 24 hours. Twenty new cases have also come, taking the number of hospitalised children to 670. The patients admitted here are local as well as from East Champaran, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Vaishali and Samastipur districts," said Muzaffarpur Civil Surgeon Dr Gyan Bhushan.
"A child of Bhagalpur has died here of AES. One patient each from Khagaria and Madhepura districts is admitted here. We are establishing a separate ICU to tackle a situation. Instructions have been issued to government officials to help detect ill children and rush them to hospital," said Bhagalpur Civil Surgeon Dr Uday Shankar Chaudhary.
Health department officials said Harshvardhan will visit to Muzaffarpur, where 670 patients are admitted in two hospitals - Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) and Kejriwal Hospital. He will monitor the efforts being made to check the loss of lives.
A very high death rate of around 26 per cent has made AES more alarming and the doctors are keeping their fingers crossed. What makes it worse is that the reasons behind the syndrome is yet unknown.
"We are doing our best and praying for rains to lash Muzaffarpur. So far there have been no rains here. Past experience shows AES incidence declines rapidly once the monsoon rains start," said Bhushan.
Meanwhile, T Jacob John, an expert from Christian Medical College, Vellore in Tamil Nadu said the major reason behind the spread of the disease is malnutrition and unhygienic conditions.
"The blood glucose level of the affected kids has been found to be very low and we are trying to find out whether it is due to some virus or toxins particular to the heat and humid weather prevalent in these parts during this season," said John.
The symptoms vary from high fever, body ache, stiffness of limbs to meningitis and coma.