The Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) has claimed the lives of 171 children in Bihar till Thursday evening, plunging the state in a grim crisis. The deadly outbreak of the disease has gripped the children of the state since the beginning of June.
The worst-hit district is Muzaffarpur with the viral disease taking the lives of 132 children. It is followed by Vaishali where 20 children have lost the battle with AES. Another six children have lost their lives in Begusarai district, five in Samastipur, two each in Motihari, Patna and Bettiah and one each in Bhagalpur and Gopalganj.
The Bihar government has announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of the children who died due to AES. It has also directed the Health Department, District Administration, and the doctors to take necessary measures for the containment of the disease.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday termed the AES deaths as "unfortunate and a matter of shame for the nation". Replying to the debate on the Motion of Thanks to President Ram Nath Kovind`s address in the Rajya Sabha, PM Modi said that he was in constant touch with the Bihar government. "A collective solution would be found soon to end the crisis," he added.
An FIR was lodged against 39 residents of Harivanshpur on Tuesday after they protested the lack of water supply and death of several children due to the AES in the area. The residents have threatened to file a case against the state government and the local administration if the FIR filed is not withdrawn.
The Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) president Jitan Ram Manjhi demanded the resignation of Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey due to his alleged failure to check the outbreak. Manjhi also asked CM Nitish Kumar to resign, if he was unable to make Pandey quit his post.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA), who has analysed the fatalities, said consumption of 'litchi' cannot be attributed as the major factor since infants are also affected. Dehydration, hypoglycaemia and the heat syndrome have played a significant part, the IMA said adding a reduction in body temperature with tepid sponging, increased fluid intake and adequate food intake may prevent this syndrome.
AES is a viral disease which causes mild flu-like symptoms such as high fever, convulsions, and headache.