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Bihar: Death toll reaches 71 due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome

To make sure that the affected children are getting proper treatment, the state and Central government are working together.

Bihar: Death toll reaches 71 due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome

The death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) rose to 71 on Friday in Bihar, within a week of its outbreak in several districts in the state. More than 150 children have fallen ill due to AES. The worst-hit is Muzaffarpur with at least 61 children falling prey to the AES. The viral infection is claiming lives of children in 12 districts including, Vaishali, Shivhar, Motihari, East Champaran and West Champaran. To make sure that the affected children are getting proper treatment, the state and Central government are working together.

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Earlier in the day, Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey took stock of the situation at the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH), Muzaffarpur where several children have died. Pandey met SKMCH Principal Dr (Professor) Bikash Kumar and other senior functionaries to inquire about the medical facilities to treat children suffering from AES.

He said that an awareness campaign needs to be undertaken in areas where AES is prevalent to prevent the spread of the disease. "The suggestions by the central team has been implemented and advisories issued to the district magistrates of 12 districts where the prevalence of AES is high. SKMCH will be provided with six additional ambulances," he said.

Pandey claimed that children suffering from AES are being provided with the best possible treatment and 27 of them have been discharged till Thursday. There are 66 more children admitted in the hospital, he added. 

Pandey had met Union Minister Harsh Vardhan in the national capital where the latter had assured that Centre was ready to provide all assistance to Bihar in combating AES and Japanese Encephalitis in the state.

Vardhan also suggested that as the cases are from some defined areas in the high load districts, the state should also involve other stakeholders like IMA and NGOs for widespread awareness and education campaigns. He sought active involvement of the district administration to make every deputy collector in-charge of one tehsil each to actively monitor and ensure that no child reaches a critical condition and that they are taken to the nearest health centre. He stressed upon the importance of sturdy mechanisms for monitoring and surveillance.

The Centre's multi-disciplinary team is deployed there and has been supporting the state government in management and containment of the cases. He also suggested that the number of pediatricians in the SKMCH hospital in the state be augmented for effective treatment of these cases.

Vardhan stated that food distribution to all children through the ICDS Anganwadi centres and hot meals distribution through NGOs, etc, shall help in boosting the nutrition levels of children in these districts.

Children suffering from AES develop mild flu-like symptoms such as high fever, convulsions, and headaches.